SCHOOL BELLS AND WINCHESTERS:
THE SAD SAGA OF GLENDOLENE MYRTLE KIMMELL
By Carol L. Bowers
Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, the Iron Mountain school teacher who became an object of public scrutiny as a result of her brief association with the notorious stock detective Tom Horn, was an enigmatic figure in Wyoming history. Although she was portrayed by the press as Tom Horn’s sweetheart or lover, there is no evidence to suggest that their relationship ever progressed beyond an idle flirtation at their single documented meeting at the Miller ranch.
An intense, complex woman, Glendolene Kimmell resisted the submissive role for women prescribed by late Victorian society and still prevalent at the turn of the century. Her assertiveness and unswerving personal resolve empowered her to resist attempts to silence her as an advocate for Horn. A widely publicized confrontation between Kimmell and acting Wyoming Governor Fennimore Chatterton, over an affidavit given by Kimmell alleging Horn’s innocence in the murder of fourteen year old Willie Nickell, ultimately resulted in her arrest and imprisonment on charges of perjury brought by Laramie County Prosecuting Attorney Walter Stoll. The charges were abruptly dismissed following Horn’s execution.
While Glendolene Kimmell undeniably played a central role in the drama of the Tom Horn case, emphasis placed on her alleged “love affair” with Horn has eclipsed her own story as a young woman making her way in the West. Representative of hundreds of young women who came West to teach school and seek financial gain, adventure and romance, Glendolene Kimmell’s story has much to tell us about the particularities of women’s experience in the American West during the first half of the twentieth century.
Kimmell conducted herself with poise and dignity throughout the ordeal of Horn’s trial and execution, even though her reputation and integrity were subjected to scathing attacks in the press and by those in the very highest echelons of political power in Wyoming. Kimmell’s experience not only addresses issues of women’s voice, social and political empowerment and marginalization, but it also brings a new dimension to the established lore associated with the Tom Horn legend.
Like Tom Horn, Glendolene Kimmell was a native of Missouri. Glendolene was the granddaughter of Jonathan and Charlotte Pierce, one of the most prominent families of Hannibal, Missouri. The Pierce’s first-born son, Edward, and Glendolene’s mother, Frances, were childhood friends of Samuel Clemens.1 Later, Clemens, under the pseudonym Mark Twain, would mention them and relate their pranks and adventures in his writing.
The Pierce’s daughter, Frances, married Elijah Kimmell in 1864. Kimmell was a native of Ohio and had served in the Ohio 38th Infantry during the Civil War. The Kimmells lived in St. Louis, Missouri throughout their married life, where Elijah Kimmell was employed by the medical department of the army.2
Frances and Elijah Kimmell had three children, Daisy Nadine, John Pierce and Glendolene Myrtle. Daisy Nadine died in l872 at two years of age. Elijah Kimmell died February 13, 1881 and John Pierce Kimmell died the following month. The cause of the deaths of Glendolene’s siblings and father are unknown, but may have been attributable to cholera. Following the deaths of her husband and son, Frances returned with Glendolene to her parents’ home in Hannibal.3 Glendolene attended and graduated from Hannibal High School and then served as a trainer at the high school for one year prior to coming West.4
It was a common practice for Wyoming to send recruiters to Missouri and other states in the Midwest to recruit young women to teach in the Wyoming schools. It was through one of these Wyoming recruiters that Glendolene was offered the position at the Iron Mountain school in Laramie County and, like so many other young women of her day, she was motivated by the desire for independence, adventure and romance to accept.5
Glendolene came to Wyoming in 1901, a time when many women were beginning to choose careers and the life of a single, “odd woman”, rather than relinquish their personal freedom of choice by marrying and assuming the subordinate role implicit for married women at the turn of the century. While there is no evidence to indicate that Glendolene was involved in the feminist movement of the early l900’s, it does seem reasonable to suppose that she was attracted by the enticing aura of personal independence and romantic adventure associated with the West in the popular imagination. She provides confirmation for this theory in a statement, which she wrote in Denver, Colorado in 1904, in which she comments, “I have...been most strongly attracted by the frontier type; so when...I went to...the Iron Mountain country, I was happy in the belief that I would meet with the embodiment of that type in its natural environment.”6
Born on June 21, 1879, Glendolene was only 21 years old when she came to Wyoming to begin her teaching position at the Iron Mountain School. Glendolene arrived in Cheyenne in January 1901, but did not begin holding school at the Iron Mountain School until July of that year.7 At the time, she did not realize that she had embarked on an adventure, which would immortalize her in the annals of Wyoming history.
Glendolene assumed responsibility for the Iron Mountain School in early July, l901, replacing the previous teacher, Vernie LaPosh.8 She taught there for 103 days at the salary of $50.00 per month. Reports of the Laramie County School District Clerk to County Superintendent of Schools, Elizabeth Hawes, and reports and records of visits by Mrs. Hawes to the Iron Mountain School indicate that Glendolene was charged with responsibility for an aggregate enrollment of ten children, and a building and furniture classified as “fair,” with no library books whatsoever.9 On the date of Mrs. Hawes’ visit to the school only one boy and three girls were in attendance. The school was shared by the Miller and Nickell families and was approximately a half hour walk from the Miller ranch. Although Glendolene’s tenure at the Iron Mountain School was brief, none of her successors remained for more than one year, and in l908, as in 1901, when Glendolene replaced Ms. La Posh, the school had two teachers in the course of the year.10
During her tenure at the Iron Mountain School, Glendolene boarded with Jim and Dora Miller and their children Eva, Maud, Gus and Victor. Another son, Frank, had been killed at age fourteen when Jim Miller’s shotgun accidentally discharged in a buckboard in which the boy was riding, striking him in the head. (It is said that Miller was carrying the loaded gun because he feared an attack by Kels Nickell.)11 Kels and Mary Nickell resided on the neighboring homestead with their nine children, Willie, Freddie, Kels Jr., Julia, Katherine, Beatrix, Harlan, Ida and Marguerite.12 The Nickell and Miller families had been engaged in a lingering feud which had extended to rivalries between the children of the respective families and which had, on occasion, resulted in physical altercations. Much of the hostility between the families was predicated on Nickell’s bringing sheep into the Iron Mountain country. There were frequent charges and counter charges between the two families regarding stock trespassing on their respective ranges. Threats were exchanged, names were called, hostility between the two families intensified.
Glendolene later stated that she had been advised of the nature of the feud at the time she was offered the Iron Mountain School, but was not bothered by the fact that the families sharing the school were in conflict. She remarked that she felt it provided an opportunity to “enhance her study of human nature.”13
While Glendolene expressed pleasure with the western landscape and spoke of taking long walks to learn “the lay of the land” and visiting with the Nickells and others in the Iron Mountain community, she was disappointed in not finding her romantic ideal of the “frontier type” among the residents of the Iron Mountain Country. She characterized the cattlemen and cowboys with whom she became acquainted as being “like the hired hands back home.”14
On the morning of July 15, l901, Tom Horn rode up to the Miller ranch house and into the life of the cultured and elegant young schoolmarm from Hannibal. Horn arrived on a Tuesday morning, passed the night at the Miller ranch and departed sometime the next day after Glendolene had left for school.15 Obviously quite taken with Horn’s appearance, Glendolene was also captivated as Horn shared stories of his background as an army interpreter in the Apache wars, a bronc buster, a Spanish American War veteran, a Pinkerton man and a stock detective. It is little wonder that Glendolene enthused that she had met with the embodiment of “the characteristics, the experiences and the code of the old frontiersman.”16
Although accounts of their meeting vary, statements given by both Horn and Glendolene confirm that they spent most of the time of Horn’s visit in one another’s company.17 Glendolene reported that, at Jim Miller’s urging, Horn told stories of his adventures in the Apache and Spanish American wars, and discussed in very general terms the nature of detective work, while avoiding much comment on his present employment.18
It was established, through testimony of Miller family members, that during this visit Horn went fishing with male members of the family and also practiced shooting with Victor Miller, who mentioned in his testimony that both he and Horn had .30 -.30’s which used identical ammunition. It was also mentioned that Horn and Victor discovered that they both purchased their ammunition at the same place.19
Glendolene and Horn ate breakfast with the Miller family on Wednesday morning. She left for school at approximately 8:30 A.M. Horn left the Miller place later that morning. Both Glendolene and Horn stated in later testimony that this was the only time they met.20
On Thursday morning Glendolene had breakfast alone, eating a bowl of strawberries Victor Miller had picked for her, and then left for school. Only two small children were in attendance that day and so she dismissed school at 11:00 that morning and returned to the Miller place for lunch.21
On Friday morning, Kels Nickell arrived at the school in an agitated state and began questioning her closely about the movements of the male members of the Miller family on Thursday. Glendolene refused to answer, telling Nickell it was not her place to answer for them and urging him to make his inquiries directly of them. Nickell then told her that his 14-year-old son, Willie, had been found that morning, shot to death near a gate about three quarters of a mile from their home. Glendolene stated that, after discovering the reason for his questions, she answered as best she could, but told him that she had paid little attention to the whereabouts of the Miller family members Thursday morning and would need time to reflect.22 At the close of the school day, Glendolene returned to the Miller home and shared the news with other members of the Miller family who reportedly expressed regret at Willie’s death.
News of the tragedy spread quickly throughout the Iron Mountain community and many residents expressed suspicion about the Millers’ involvement. On August 3, l901 Nickell’s sheep wandered onto Miller’s land. Glendolene accompanied Jim Miller and the rest of the family to the pasture where the sheep had been discovered. Eva Miller sighted a man with a rifle silhouetted on the horizon. Glendolene and Miller took cover behind a rock and Miller ordered the man to get the sheep off his land. The man took cover behind a tree. The other family members left the area, some to go for help and the women to return to the house. Glendolene remained behind the rock with Miller, watching the sheep and the sheepherder until mid-afternoon, when they returned to the house for some dinner. The man with the rifle is believed to have been Vingengo Biango, an Italian sheepherder who had been recently hired by the Nickells.23
On the following day, August 4, l901, Kels Nickell was shot, though his wounds were not fatal, and 60-80 of his sheep were found shot or clubbed to death. Two of the younger Nickell children reported seeing two men leaving the scene on a bay and a gray horse – horses of the same colors as horses owned by Jim Miller.24
On August 6, l901 Deputy Sheriff Peter Warlaumont and Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe LeFors came to the Iron Mountain area and arrested Jim, Victor and Gus Miller on suspicion of shooting Kels Nickell. The prison calendar for the Laramie County jail indicates that the Miller men were incarcerated on August 7th and released the following day on bond.25
The coroner’s inquest into the murder of Willie Nickell and the shooting of Kels Nickell began in July l901 and continued into September of that year. Glendolene Kimmell appeared as a witness at the inquest on two occasions. The testimony given by Glendolene at the coroner’s inquest following Willie Nickell’s death hints at the nature of her personality. Her statements reflected composure, confidence, and precision in her use of language. Her testimony did not indicate that she was awed or intimidated by Walter Stoll, the county prosecuting attorney, or by any of the other officials connected with the proceedings. Although she was cooperative in answering all questions put by the examiners, she was also quick to counter, correct and question statements and inquiries made by Stoll and others.26 Throughout her inquest testimony, Glendolene projected an air of self-assurance and directness, which was at times a bit pretentious. During her testimony, she confirmed Walter Stoll’s characterization of Jim Miller as a “religious crank”, and in subsequent testimony stated that she felt that Jim Miller and Kels Nickell were equally to blame for the troubles between their two families.27
An affidavit by Mrs. Elizabeth Hawes, Laramie County Superintendent of Schools, given on October 27, l903, stated that on the 10th or 11th of October l901, Glendolene Kimmell visited at Mrs. Hawes’ home, after resigning her position at the Iron Mountain School.28 Mrs. Hawes stated that she accompanied Glendolene to downtown Cheyenne and waited at the foot of the stairs to Walter Stoll’s office while Glendolene went upstairs to speak with him. Mrs. Hawes stated that Glendolene left on the train later that day after visiting with Stoll.29 Although Glendolene’s immediate destination after leaving Cheyenne is unknown, the l902 city directory for Kansas City, Missouri lists her as residing and working in that city as a stenographer.
In January, l902, Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe LeFors secreted stenographer Charles Ohnhaus behind a door in his office, ready to take down all that was said in the adjacent room. LeFors then lured Tom Horn, who was still inebriated after a long night of hard drinking, to his office on the pretext of offering him employment in Montana. During this meeting, LeFors claims to have extracted the infamous Horn “confession”. In the “confession,” Horn is alleged to have said that he had received a letter from Glendolene warning him to watch out for Joe Lefors as “...he is not alright.”30 This is a curious statement, as there is absolutely no evidence that Glendolene ever corresponded with Horn at any time during her life. In addition, Horn allegedly referred to Glendolene as “smooth people” and also is alleged to have stated that “...I wouldn’t tell an individual like her anything.”31 On the day following the exchange with LeFors, Horn was arrested the in the lobby of the Inter-Ocean Hotel by Sheriff Ed Smalley and charged with the murder of Willie Nickell.
Horn’s trial began on October 10, 1902 and continued until October 24. The press and the local politicians brought tremendous pressure to bear for a conviction. Throughout the trial Cheyenne had a carnival atmosphere with the saloons and cafes packed to capacity. Witnesses and spectators at the trial amused themselves in the street outside the courthouse by organizing impromptu dances. In the crowded courtroom strains of such tunes as “Old Dan Tucker”, “Money Musk”, and “The Darkey’s Dream” wafted in the open windows of the courtroom from the street below.32
Horn’s long-time friend and employer, John C. Coble, assembled an illustrious team of legal minds in Horn’s defense. Headed by Judge John W. Lacey, the defense team included T.F. Burke, Roderick N. Matson, Edward T. Clark and T. Blake Kennedy. Reportedly, Coble bore the lion’s share of the expense for Horn’s defense.
Coble worked tirelessly in defense of his friend, traveling extensively to contact potential witnesses and seeking out evidence, which might lead to Horn’s exoneration. During much of this time, Glendolene was reportedly corresponding with Coble regarding Horn’s predicament and the extent of her knowledge about the facts of the Nickell murder.
The regional press made much of the relationship between Horn and Glendolene, referring to her in one instance as
...a petite, vivacious piece of femininity less than five feet in height, but possessing an education extraordinary in a young lady of such an age...she is a remarkable linguist who speaks half a dozen languages.33
The proliferation of stories linking Glendolene and Horn vacillated between either luridly sensationalizing their relationship and speculating on when she would come forward to testify on her “lover’s” behalf, or assuring the public that she would appear as a woman scorned with evidence which would seal Horn’s doom. One paper reported that she left the courtroom in a huff when the remarks concerning her in Horn’s “confession” were read at the preliminary hearing, and another commented on her devoted visits to Horn at the county jail.34 Both reports were patent falsehoods, as it is well known that she did not attend either Horn’s preliminary hearing or Horn’s trial, and was not in Cheyenne during any of that time. Indeed it appears that she was not even in the area. Stoll issued a subpoena for Glendolene to appear on the opening day of the trial, but it was returned with a notation by the sheriff that she could not be located.35
The evidence supporting the inability of officers of the court to locate and serve Glendolene with the subpoena conflicts with reports in the press which allege that she was known to be residing in Denver at 800 Colfax Avenue with a Mrs. Bushnell.36 The press stated that Glendolene had remarked that Horn had said things about her that she could not forgive and she would come to Cheyenne to tell all she knew.37 The Cheyenne Leader, in a story which appeared October 13, l902, alleged that Glendolene was located in the Pennington Saloon on Curtis street in Denver and served with the subpoena, but refused to come to Cheyenne to testify. This is a complete falsehood, and there is attend either Horn’s preliminary hearing or Horn’s trial, and was not in Cheyenne during any of that time. Indeed it appears that she was not even in the area. Stoll issued a subpoena for Glendolene to appear on the opening day of the trial, but it was returned with a notation by the sheriff that she could not be located.35
The evidence supporting the inability of officers of the court to locate and serve Glendolene with the subpoena conflicts with reports in the press which allege that she was known to be residing in Denver at 800 Colfax Avenue with a Mrs. Bushnell.36 The press stated that Glendolene had remarked that Horn had said things about her that she could not forgive and she would come to Cheyenne to tell all she knew.37 The Cheyenne Leader, in a story which appeared October 13, l902, alleged that Glendolene was located in the Pennington Saloon on Curtis street in Denver and served with the subpoena, but refused to come to Cheyenne to testify. This is a complete falsehood, and there is ample evidence to prove that Glendolene was residing in Kansas City, not Denver at this time. Moreover, it is ludicrous to believe that a woman of Glendolene’s upbringing and social station would be located in a saloon. What the saloon story does do, however, is to impugn her reputation and malign her credibility by implying that she is on a par with prostitutes and other women considered to be of “low character” who were known to frequent such places.
Furthermore, the lurid stories in the Cheyenne press were discredited by an affidavit given by William B. Ross on November 11, l903, which verifies that Stoll knew that Glendolene was in Kansas City during l902.38 Ross’ affidavit stated that he was requested to go to Kansas City in October of l902 to persuade Glendolene to come with him to Cheyenne as a witness in the Horn case.
According to Ross, Stoll had written to Glendolene repeatedly, requesting her to come as a witness, but she refused to answer his letters. Ross stated that he had been instructed to say to Glendolene that an effort would be made in the trial to throw the blame for the murder on Victor Miller and to say to her that she knew perfectly well that Victor was entirely innocent. Ross also alleged that he was instructed by Stoll to say to her that if she would come, the County of Laramie would pay her the usual per diem and mileage paid to witnesses, as well as pay for her room and board and reimburse her for any expense and loss she might sustain by coming to Cheyenne.
At no time did Ross indicate that Glendolene had stated that she knew Victor Miller was innocent, only that he had been instructed to tell her that she knew this. Ross’ affidavit went on to relate that Glendolene refused to return to Cheyenne with him, but did question him closely concerning all he knew about the case. He stated that she made no statements to him with regard to any knowledge of the case of any kind.
The concluding paragraph of Ross’ affidavit appears to contradict earlier statements in which he related what he had been instructed to say to Glendolene. This final paragraph states:
Affiant further deposes and says that at no time whatever did he, directly or indirectly, attempt to bribe or to suggest to her in the slightest way what the prosecution desired her to swear to, or what she was to swear to, except that she was possessed of evidence that would show Victor Miller was innocent.39
It is obvious that Glendolene’s whereabouts were common knowledge to both Stoll and to Horn’s defense team. Her reasons for not coming forward at Horn’s trial have been a central focus of debate for years and theories abound. Glendolene was later to give her reasons, but by then it was too late to save Horn from the gallows.
The trial wound its weary way through hours of conflicting testimony. Many were certain that Horn would be acquitted. Throughout the trial the press continued to speculate on when Glendolene would appear and on what the nature of her testimony would be. Inexplicably, Glendolene was never called as a defense witness, although there is abundant evidence that she corresponded with Judge Lacey and T.F. Burke, the leaders of Horn’s defense team, with regard to her willingness to come forward on Horn’s behalf if necessary. Later, during her eleventh hour attempt to save Horn from the gallows, Glendolene stated that she had not come forward earlier because she had been assured by Burke and Lacey that her testimony would not be needed, as they were confident that Horn would be exonerated.40
The case went to the jury on October 23, l902. Late in the afternoon of the following day the jury returned a verdict of guilty. At a hearing a few days later, Tom Horn was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead on January 9, l903.41
By October 29, 1902, Horn’s attorneys had filed a motion for a new trial citing, among the twenty-three reasons given, abusive language on the part of Walter Stoll in his summation to the jury and improper instructions to the jury by Judge Richard Scott.42 The motion was denied.
On November 10, 1902, Glendolene Kimmell made the following affidavit to John M. Cleary in Jackson County, Missouri:
I, Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, being first duly sworn upon my oath, depose and say that I now have positive knowledge as to who killed William Nickell, and that he (William Nickell) was not killed by Tom Horn. If a new trial is granted in this case of the State of Wyoming versus Tom Horn, I will attend such trial and testify with facts as above stated.43
On December 31st Horn’s attorneys filed a petition of error with the Wyoming Supreme Court and succeeded in obtaining a stay of execution until Horn’s case could be heard and decided. By March, l903, the defense had prepared and filed a lengthy brief requesting that Horn be granted a new trial, but the Supreme Court delayed hearing arguments until after the 20th of August. On October 1, l903, the Supreme Court issued its opinion affirming the decision of the District Court and denying Horn a new trial. Horn’s execution date was fixed for November 20, l903.44
Throughout the months between Horn’s conviction and the denial of his appeal by the Supreme Court, Glendolene had remained in Missouri, corresponding with Horn’s attorneys, as well as with John Coble. However, by mid-October of l903, Glendolene had returned to Cheyenne at last to attempt to save Horn from the gallows.
On October 13, Glendolene swore out her famous affidavit, in which she is reported to have accused Victor Miller of the murder of Willie Nickell and to have given the details of several conversations between the male members of the Miller family with respect to Victor’s guilt. Also, her affidavit is reported to have related the details of a confession allegedly made directly to Glendolene by Victor Miller. The affidavit was immediately submitted to prosecuting attorney Walter Stoll and acting Wyoming Governor Fenimore Chatterton. Not surprisingly, her affidavit created a sensation as soon as the substance of her allegations were released to the press.
The Cheyenne press reported that Glendolene met on four separate occasions with Chatterton, although she insisted that they had only “... one interview worthy of the name...and in this his questions were very evidently prompted more by a curiosity concerning my personal, private affairs than by any anxiety to inform himself upon the true situation.”45
A dispatch from Cheyenne to the Denver Post on November 4, 1903, underscored the preoccupation of the press with Glendolene and is indicative of the subtle campaign to damage her reputation and credibility.
It is the opinion of everyone who has followed the case and especially those who have seen the woman that it was a bad move of Horn’s attorneys when they presented Miss Gwendolene [sic] Myrtle Kimmell in person to plead for Horn’s life. To use a common expression the little school teacher “does not look good,” to those who have seen her, and it is doubtful if she has made a very favorable impression upon Governor Chatterton.46
It appears that, while many other individuals came forward with affidavits attesting to Horn’s innocence and with letters pleading for clemency on Horn’s behalf, Glendolene was the only advocate for Horn who was forced to go through the humiliating ordeal of obtaining affidavits attesting to her family’s background and her reputation for truth and chastity. Glendolene was compelled to obtain these affidavits before Acting Governor Chatterton was willing to seriously consider her evidence - a curious requirement to be imposed by an official of the Equality State.
On November 7, 1903, Glendolene dashed off a series of telegrams to persons in Missouri who could vouch for her family background and reputation. The urgency of her situation is vividly illustrated in the text of one of the telegrams.
Cheyenne, Wyoming. Nov.7th 1903
Mrs. H Zimmerman
407 N. 9th St.,Hannibal, Mo.
Tell or answer my reputation for truth and standing of my family questioned. Immediately get affidavits fully covering these points from Judge Bacon, Schofield, Colonels Anderson, Robards, John Knott, Doctor Gleason, Kabler, Brittingham, Teachers Ashmore, Mullen, Kaley. Have witnesses sign full name and title. Simply tell witnesses I am witness in criminal case you know nothing about. Have telegraph money order for notary fees. If you fail me I will never forgive.
Great haste. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell47
In the next few days Glendolene also met with Chief Justice Samuel Corn, of the Wyoming Supreme Court, and with Justice Jesse Knight, but her entreaties were futile. On November 10, 1903, exactly one year to the day after she had given her affidavit in Missouri attesting to her knowledge of Horn’s innocence, Walter Stoll filed an information with the District Court, charging Glendolene Kimmell with perjury. Stoll’s information stated that Glendolene knowingly made false statements to the Governor with regard to the guilt of Victor Miller.48 A warrant was issued for Glendolene’s arrest. Sheriff Smalley arrested her at the Inter-Ocean Hotel, just as he had Tom Horn, and escorted her to the Laramie County jail where Horn was incarcerated.49 Although she was held at the jail briefly, John Coble and Colonel Fullerton of the Inter-Ocean Hotel arranged for her bond and she was released from jail, but confined to her room at the Inter-Ocean Hotel. Her bond was set at $2000.00, an extremely high sum, at the insistence of Wyoming Attorney General J. A. Van Orsdel.50 Her trial was set for January, l904. As expected, Glendolene’s arrest created a journalistic carnival and her character was pilloried in the press.
Orders were issued to bring the Miller family into town to answer the allegations contained in the Kimmell affidavit. The Millers issued affidavits of their own emphatically denying that any member of their family had confessed to or had been complicit in the murder of Willie Nickell. Governor Chatterton held a long conference with Victor Miller, during which Victor is reported to have denied any involvement in Willie Nickell’s murder.
Petitions for clemency, affidavits in support of Horn’s innocence, anonymous threats and affidavits attesting to Horn’s guilt continued to pour in to Governor Chatterton’s office. Two of the most damaging, both to Horn and to Glendolene, came from Van L. Gilford and from Sheriff H.A. Mendenhall of Kansas City, Kansas.
Gilford stated that on or about November 11, l902, he was approached in the Paxton Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska by John C. Coble who showed him the affidavit of Glendolene Kimmell, dated November 10, l902. According to Guilford, Coble stated that he had obtained the affidavit from Miss Kimmell and that Horn’s only hope was this affidavit and the throwing of the killing on the Millers.51
A special to the Laramie Boomerang from Cheyenne on November 14, 1903, reported that an affidavit was received late in the evening on the previous day from Sheriff H.A. Mendenhall of Kansas City, Kansas, stating that he had once had a conversation with Glendolene Kimmell in which she allegedly stated that a man “whose name Mendenhall did not recollect” had been charged by Horn with the commission of the crime for which Horn was being prosecuted and that this nameless man was innocent and Horn was guilty. Mendenhall further stated that Glendolene had told him that she was willing to go to Cheyenne and testify to that effect. Mendenhall alleged that Glendolene requested Cheyenne officers to arrange for her transportation expenses, but then changed her mind and refused to go. Mendenhall stated that he questioned her decision and advised her that she would make more as a witness than by teaching school, to which she allegedly replied: “But suppose the other fellows would give you more than that, what would you do?”52
On November 14, 1903, acting Governor Chatterton announced that he would not interfere and Horn’s execution would proceed as scheduled. He cited the Mendenhall affidavit as weighing heavily in his decision to disregard the allegations contained in the Kimmell affidavit and accused Glendolene of presenting “theories” in an attempt to save Horn’s life. The Cheyenne Leader commented that Glendolene’s affidavit attesting to Horn’s innocence was “...a clear case of attempted self sacrifice in order to save Horn’s life and for that reason there is some sympathy for her; but she is under bond and must stand trial.””53
Soon after the Governor’s decision was announced, members of the press interviewed Walter Stoll. He was asked whether or not he would drop the charges against Miss Kimmell, now that Horn’s fate was sealed. Stoll replied,
I most certainly shall prosecute her. The action of the governor in no way influences any action I may take. I have not singled out Miss Kimmell more than the others, but will take action against all the rest of those perjurers. I have abundant evidence to make me feel certain of securing their conviction.54
It is interesting to note that while the names of all the others who had given affidavits alleging Horn’s innocence were known to Stoll, he made no effort to carry out his vow to prosecute them. No other charges of perjury were made and no others arrested — only Glendolene.
Although the Wyoming Stock Growers Association categorically denied that Horn had been in its employ, it was common knowledge that Horn was employed by Association member John C. Coble, and had done work for a number of Association members to stamp out the rustling. Rumor had it that the big cattlemen would use their influence to see that Horn was freed. While Horn’s attorneys had expressed confidence that he would be acquitted, it seems odd that they repeatedly rejected the offers Glendolene allegedly made to come to Cheyenne to testify in Horn’s behalf; testimony which would have bolstered Horn’s chances for acquittal.
By the time the Supreme Court had handed down its affirmation of the Lower Court, the press was having a field day, announcing that Horn would begin naming his employers any day in an attempt to save himself from the gallows. Many of Horn’s employers were understandably worried. Pressure was brought to bear from many sectors. In the final days before Horn’s execution, following Governor Chatterton’s refusal to grant Horn clemency, the Cheyenne Leader and other papers began to clamor for the names of Horn’s employers to be revealed. Certainly many who valued their reputations - and their necks - began to feel Horn was expendable and were in favor of expediting the process. Many were convinced that Horn would talk before he stepped on the gallows. They were wrong.
On November 20, l903, still maintaining his innocence, Tom Horn was executed on a water-operated gallows designed by Mr. J. P. Julian. Horn’s brother, Charles, claimed the body and transported it to Boulder, Colorado for burial. John C. Coble paid for Horn’s elaborate coffin and for the simple stone, which marks his grave.
Four days after Horn’s execution, Glendolene was back in the fight, filing a motion in District Court through her attorney, T.F. Burke, requesting that another judge be assigned to her case, as she did not believe that she could receive a fair trial before Judge Richard H. Scott because of his prejudice against her.55 (Judge Scott had presided at Horn’s trial.) The next day Judge Scott signed an order transferring her case to Judge C.E. Carpenter, Judge of the Second Judicial District.56
The Laramie Boomerang reported a few days later that Glendolene was confined to her room at the Inter-Ocean Hotel with “nervous prostration”. The article went on to report that her condition was serious and was “directly due to the execution of her lover and the great load of dishonor and disgrace which she is compelled to bear.”57 Whether there was any veracity to this story is unknown.
During this time, a motion was filed by Judge Lacey and T.F. Burke on Glendolene’s behalf, requesting that depositions might be taken from a number of citizens residing in Hannibal, Missouri.58 Many of these people had already sent affidavits to Governor Chatterton prior to Glendolene’s arrest, attesting to her fine reputation and family background. The interrogatories which the deponents were supposed to answer were as follows:
1. State your name, age, place of residence and occupation.
2. How long have you been a resident of the City of Hannibal and State of Missouri?
3. Are you acquainted with Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell?
4. If so, where have you known her and for how long?
5. Are you acquainted with her reputation in that community for chastity?
6. What is it, good or bad?
7. Are you acquainted with her reputation in that community for truth and veracity?
8. What is it, good or bad?59
Judge Carpenter signed the order for these depositions to be taken prior to January 4, l904.60 The depositions were never taken. On November 25, l903, Laramie County Prosecuting Attorney Walter Stoll filed a motion to be allowed to dismiss the charges against Glendolene. He stated that while her affidavit to Governor Chatterton constituted a “flagrant assault upon the cause of justice in this state”, he had “just now concluded “ an examination of the case law pertinent to this action and discovered that “the courts are practically of one accord on the subject...and all seem to hold that unless the affidavit in question is provided for by statute, no charge for the crime of perjury will lie.”61 Stoll went on to say that he had only just discovered that there was no provision in the Wyoming statutes authorizing the making of an affidavit in a proceeding involving a pardon or commutation of sentence, or “on any matter bearing thereon.” Stoll concluded with the comment that he would “trust to the next legislature to so amend our criminal laws as to reach offenses of this character.”62 Judge Carpenter granted the motion to dismiss all charges in the case and an order to that effect was signed on December 11, 1903.63 Glendolene was released from custody and was at last free to leave Cheyenne.
The last glimpse historians would get of Glendolene for a very long time was contained in the document she wrote in Denver, Colorado in April l904. The document was intended to be a vindication of Tom Horn and a scathing indictment of Governor Fenimore Chatterton, Walter Stoll and other powerful figures in Cheyenne. The vindication document appeared in the supplementary articles to the text of The Life of Tom Horn: Government Scout and Interpreter, a biography written by Horn during the months of his incarceration and published by the Louthan Press through John Coble’s patronage.64
The first part of the document recounts Horn’s deeds as a government scout, his contribution as chief pack master in the Spanish American War, and his intentional development of his reputation as a killer as a tool to deter rustling in the areas where he served as a stock detective. Her narrative portrays Horn in the best possible light and reflects her regard for him. The tone of the narrative is one of outrage and disgust, and the text is reasoned and purposeful. It is difficult to say whether Glendolene was still infatuated with Horn, or simply outraged and determined to set the record straight about the events which led to his execution and her arrest and incarceration.
Much has been made of the fact that if Glendolene had knowledge of Victor Miller’s guilt she should have come forward with the information at the time of the coroner’s inquest. In the vindication document, Glendolene reiterated that she did not have this information until after the second session of the inquest.
After the second session of the coroner’s inquest, I overheard three conversations between Jim and Victor Miller, in each of which conversation(s) statements were made by both, incriminating Victor Miller as the murderer of William Nickell. Twice afterwards Jim Miller acknowledged to me that Victor had confessed to him the killing of the Nickell boy; and on the 10th of October, l901, Victor Miller himself confessed to me that he was the murderer. I agreed to say nothing provided they would make no attempt to sidetrack the crime on Horn, or any other innocent person. I felt it would be unfair to punish Victor and leave untouched his father and Kels Nickell, the original cause of all the trouble. Moreover, I took into consideration the youth of the self-confessed murderer...So I held my peace.65
Glendolene goes on to state that while Horn was being tried “the attorneys for the defense repeatedly wrote me that they were confident of winning their case...I thought that by my continued silence I could save Victor Miller, and yet not jeopardize Horn.”66
Glendolene remarked in the vindication narrative that after Horn was convicted, she was determined to come forward with her knowledge of Victor’s guilt, “for I had no intention of shielding a guilty man at the expense of an innocent one.”67 She stated that her timing became problematic because Horn’s attorneys advised her that, due to a legal technicality, they could not use this evidence until the case was placed in the governor’s hands.
A letter from Sheridan, Wyoming attorney E.E. Enterline provides sufficient evidence to question the actions of Horn’s attorneys, and others directly associated with the case, while adding credibility to the statements made in Glendolene’s vindication narrative.
Sheridan, Wyo., November 5, 1903
Hon. J.A. Van Orsdel
Attorney General of Wyoming,
Dear Friend Van:-
I am of course always interested in your winning out in any matter in which I am not opposed to you, and for that reason I take the liberty of suggesting something to you that may aid you in your presentation of your side of the Horn case to the Governor.
If you have not seen the case of State v. Morgan (Utah) 64 Pac. 356, I wish you would examine it. It seems to me that the principle announced in this case would be applicable to the Horn case. If Horn has since his conviction found testimony, which tends to establish his innocence, he ought to appeal to the Courts for relief. In the Morgan case the defendant had been convicted of murder in the first degree, sentenced to death by the trial Court, and on appeal to the Supreme Court, the conviction and sentence was affirmed. He then applied to the Lower Court for a new trial on the ground of misconduct of some of the jurymen, which deprived him of having a fair trial, and which misconduct was not discovered until after the judgment had been affirmed by the Supreme Court. The Lower Court denied the motion, upon the ground that it was too late to entertain a motion of that kind. The Supreme Court reversed the order of the Lower Court and granted the defendant a new trial, and squarely held that the application under such circumstances could not be defeated by the want of any legislative remedy for a wrong inflicted during a criminal trial; that the court would resort to the common law if it afforded a remedy, and if it did not, then the Courts by virtue of their adherent power and their duty in criminal cases to guard the rights of persons, would if possible devise new remedies.
It would seem to me therefore that Governor Chatterton could well say to the Attorneys for Horn to make their application to the Courts for relief, and in my opinion from what I seen [sic] of the testimony submitted to the Governor including the testimony of the school ma’am, the Courts would unhesitatingly decline to interfere with the former conviction and sentence, and if the Courts declined to interfere, why the Governor could then well decline also.
I thought that I would write you concerning the case, because you may have overlooked it, and it may be of some help to you in the presentation of the case to the Governor.
I will be in Cheyenne upon the 8th and 9th of this month, and will be glad to see you.
Very sincerely yours,
It should be noted that Attorney Enterline was also was a cattleman whose sympathies would logically have been thought to lie with the members of the Stock Growers’ Association and by extension with Horn. Why then, was he volunteering apparently unsolicited information intended to offer the Governor a way out of a sticky situation and consequently ensure Horn’s imminent execution? Was he also uneasy about the possibility that Horn would name his employers before his execution?
Enterline’s advice apparently made an impression on Van Orsdel and was enthusiastically embraced by Chatterton, as evidenced by Chatterton’s use of Enterline’s strategy in his published decision denying Horn clemency.
...I find that a knowledge of the substance of the material alleged facts set forth in the last affidavit were known to the attorneys for the defense in December A.D. l902 —prior to the taking of the case to the Supreme Court. It is argued that under the statute this was too late to be of avail in the Courts. But I find that Courts of high and acknowledged authority have held that, even after a judgement has been affirmed on appeal and the case remanded a motion for a new trial, based upon facts which were not passed upon by the appellate court can be entertained by the court below.69
The next line in Chatterton’s handwritten manuscript says “It is never too late to do justice.” This is crossed out, then the words “It is never too late for the courts to do justice” are inserted and crossed out. He then continues:
Notwithstanding statutory restriction it is never too late for the Courts to do justice, for the Court is constituted to enforce legal rights and redress legal wrongs; whenever it is made to appear that a wrong has been perpetrated it never hesitates to exercise its power, and will even resort to common law rules, as against statutory enactment, to do so. If the facts in this affidavit [Kimmell’s] were true they should have been presented to the court.70
In her vindication narrative, Glendolene provided additional information on the position of the court. She alleged that during her interview with Chief Justice Corn he stated to her that “...I have not yet made up my mind whether he [Horn] is innocent or guilty. In fact, I would be perfectly eligible as a juror to try the case.”71 She added that Justice Jesse Knight advised her that he did not read all of the testimony placed before the Supreme Court and then commented to her that “I have taken no part in this case since it left the hands of the Supreme Court. I might have if they hadn’t attacked Joe LeFors.”72
An astonishing bit of information contained in the closing paragraphs of the vindication narrative casts the actions of Chatterton and other key players in the Horn saga in a suspicious light. Glendolene wrote:
On the 14th of November, at half past three, the governor made known his decision — he would not interfere. On the afternoon of this day a singular incident came under my notice. At exactly 4 o’clock a man called at my room in the hotel and presented a note from the governor. The note read as follows: “Miss Kimmell: Will you please let me take those letters again? I read them so hurriedly yesterday I would like to see them again at my leisure. The bearer is my deputy secretary of state. Yours truly, F. Chatterton” The governor had reference to correspondence between Attorney Burke and myself in relation to the Horn case. The strange thing is that the governor’s decision had been lying on Judge Lacey’s desk for half an hour!73
Due to her confinement at the Inter-Ocean Hotel, it is not likely that Glendolene would have had knowledge of the Governor’s action in so short a time. It should also be noted that the local press announced that the decision was released to them at precisely 4:37 p.m., November 14 —exactly 37 minutes after Glendolene had received the Governor’s communication and had turned over the requested correspondence to Chatterton’s acting secretary of state. Given that Judge Lacey had already received notice of Governor Chatterton’s decision less than half an hour before Chatterton’s emissary arrived at Glendolene’s room requesting the letters, and given the fact that the press was made aware of the governor’s decision 37 minutes after the letters had been surrendered, Governor Chatterton’s claim that he wanted the documents so that he could peruse them at his leisure lacks believability.
Once Governor Chatterton announced his decision, banner headlines had proclaimed the news that Horn must hang. The press made much of Chatterton’s decision in which he cited his reasons for discrediting the Kimmell affidavit. Column after column was devoted to rehashing information attributed to the Kimmell affidavit and contrasting her information with the following statement by Chatterton.
If the Kimmell affidavit be true a great deal of the other matters presented in support of the application are irrelevant, and could only be construed as an endeavor to create a suspicion or feeling of uncertainty in my mind. Certainty is what I have been looking for. If the Kimmell affidavit is true it is all that is required and Tom Horn should be pardoned...Is the Kimmell affidavit true? This has been the one question, presented to my mind and conscience, presented in support of the application...It would be too burdensome to go into all the details of the results of this investigation, one sample will be sufficient, I quote from her letter of Oct. 5, l903 to Mr. Coble, in which she says...”Now that matters have reached their present plight, I strongly hope that you will have faith enough in me to let me put some of my “theories” to the test.”...From my investigation, finally confirmed by the affidavit of H.A. Mendenhall, sheriff of Wyandotte County, Kansas, I do not believe the statements made in the Kimmell affidavit.74
In the Denver document, Glendolene counters with the following statement.
I have been accused of presenting theories as evidence. Would it be too far-fetched a theory to advance that the governor had now found time to consider the evidence, although his decision had already been made; or did he have the deputy take those letters across the street to the prosecuting attorney, so that the latter might make copies of them? It is a fact that after Horn was dead the prosecuting attorney had copies made of his farewell letters to his mother and his sisters. I learn upon unimpeachable authority that while Stoll’s stenographer was typewriting these farewell letters, her eyes filled with tears, so that she could hardly write. Stoll, coming into the room, took in the situation and jeered at her. The state’s case was ended, so it is evident that his sole purpose was to acquire souvenirs —of what? Of work well done! The hanging of an innocent man!75
Charge and counter-charge aside, it must be questioned why the famous Kimmell affidavit, as well as the letter to Coble and the letters to Burke and Lacey, have disappeared from the public record. One must also question why, if Chatterton’s statements were true, Glendolene, John C. Coble, or Horn’s attorneys would provide the Governor with a letter which would discredit Glendolene’s affidavit and almost certainly ensure that the Governor would allow Horn’s execution to go forward. There is no document to substantiate Chatterton’s charge that Glendolene proposed to present “theories” in an attempt to save Horn’s life. These documents are not among Chatterton’s papers, nor Van Orsdel’s, even though a memo from Van Orsdel to Chatterton requesting a copy of the Kimmell affidavit is still in the file. These documents are not contained in the criminal case file assembled during Glendolene’s arrest and incarceration for perjury. Since Stoll based his information to the court on his possession of “abundant evidence”, including her affidavit, which proved that she was guilty of intentionally making false statements to the Governor, it would seem that these documents might reasonably be expected to be in the criminal case file, as supporting evidence of Stoll’s charges. They aren’t there. Furthermore, the Kimmell affidavit is not among the multitude of other affidavits submitted to Governor Chatterton, although every other affidavit mentioned in published research on this case is easily obtainable. The affidavit does not even occur in the file marked “Kimmell affidavit” where the blue paper cover, identical to the blue paper covers that are attached to virtually every other affidavit, contains only the fragile carbon tissues of Glendolene’s frantic telegrams to her friends and acquaintances in Hannibal, pleading for them to hurry in verifying her family background and good reputation. How did these personal communications come to be in the Governor’s possession and why are they placed in the affidavit cover instead of the affidavit?
There is no evidence in the published research on the Horn case which indicates that any researcher has ever actually seen the Kimmell affidavit, or the letters to which such frequent reference is made in discrediting Glendolene’s affidavit. Historians have had to rely on secondary sources purporting to give the substance of that affidavit. None of the letters to Coble or between Burke, Lacey and Glendolene are to be found in any of the correspondence files of officials associated with the case, although extremely extensive correspondence files containing many other letters from persons related to, or interested in, the case are preserved.
Of further interest is the much-heralded affidavit of Sheriff H.A. Mendenhall. Mendenhall’s affidavit was triumphantly brought forth just prior to Governor Chatterton’s announcement of his decision. Mendenhall’s name had not been connected with the case previously, yet he came forward at the very last moment to discredit Glendolene and save the day for the prosecution. (His affidavit is contained in Chatterton’s papers.)
One of the most problematic parts of the Mendenhall affidavit is the reference in which he allegedly told Glendolene she would make more by serving as a prosecution witness than by teaching school. There is no evidence that Glendolene was teaching school in Kansas City or elsewhere in Missouri at that time. She is listed in the Kansas City directory as a stenographer.
Mendenhall, a farmer from Topeka, had a small but successful transfer business in Kansas City, Kansas at the time he was elected sheriff.76 Sharing the same political affiliations as Chatterton, Mendenhall was a leader in the Kansas Republican party. He had just been elected to his fifth term as sheriff at the time he submitted his affidavit to Chatterton in November 1903. By January 1904, less than two months after Horn’s execution, Mendenhall abruptly resigned as sheriff, giving little explanation. Within a year he emerged as the major stockholder of the Home State Bank in Kansas City, ascending to the presidency of that bank the following year - an impressive accomplishment on the salary of a sheriff, although his successful transfer business may have provided a substantial income.77
If Mendenhall had information establishing that Glendolene was guilty of lying, why did he not come forward sooner? Why did he, as sheriff, not notify the Cheyenne authorities of his concerns about her back in September of l902, when the alleged conversation occurred? Why would a seasoned sheriff remember all the details of a conversation he had with Glendolene, but “not recall” the name of a man she alleged was guilty of murder? Why would a sheriff not bring this information to the attention of the Cheyenne authorities immediately? Mendenhall’s reasons are unknown, and his actions are as open to conjecture as the actions of the other central figures in the Horn case.
Much emphasis has been given to the Millers’ denial of the accusations allegedly leveled in Glendolene’s affidavit. Yet very little is said about the possibility that both Jim and Victor Miller may have perceived themselves as Horn’s rivals for Glendolene’s affections. Testimony given at the coroner’s inquest by both Jim Miller and Glendolene revealed that Jim and Dora Miller did not share a bedroom — that Jim Miller had a room to himself and Dora slept with the younger children.78 It also established that when alone, Jim Miller was in the habit of pacing up and down outside Glendolene’s room singing. Miller testified that he had lied to Glendolene after Horn left on the Wednesday before the Nickell boy was killed, telling her that Horn would be back for dinnerbefore the Nickell boy was killed, telling her that Horn would be back for dinner on Thursday and asking her if he should tell Horn to come to the school house if she was not yet at home. Miller stated that he knew perfectly well that Horn did not plan to return, but told Glendolene this to “torment” her.79 At one point during the coroner’s inquest, Walter Stoll directly asked Miller if he and Horn were rivals for Glendolene’s affection. Miller denied it.
Since Victor Miller was close in age to Glendolene, he may possibly have perceived himself as a contender for her affections. It is documented that he troubled himself to pick strawberries especially for her breakfast on the day prior to Willie Nickell’s murder and that he and Horn practiced shooting the day before.80 It is a possible, though not particularly plausible theory, that Victor perceived Horn as a rival for Glendolene’s affections and killed the Nickell boy as a means not only to settle an old score, but also as a means of casting suspicion on Horn and removing him as a rival.
While it is impossible to establish, with certainty, a romantic interest on the part of any of the Miller men toward Glendolene, it is not an implausible scenario. What is blatantly implausible is to imagine that any of the Miller men could have been expected to admit to the veracity of Glendolene’s allegations. To do so would have been to place one’s neck in the hangman’s noose intended for Horn.
It is known that the Laramie County Commissioners offered a $500.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who killed Willie Nickell. A letter dated November 22, l902, from Governor DeForest Richards to Joe LeFors, advised LeFors that he was to receive the reward money offered for the apprehension of the individual responsible for the murder of Willie Nickell. However, the letter does not state when the money will be available to LeFors.
An affidavit dated October 26, l903, from Edward T. Clark, states that in the smoking compartment of a train, while Clark and Joe LeFors were traveling between Sheridan, Wyoming and Alliance, Nebraska to attend a hearing before a United States Commissioner, LeFors confided to Clark that Stoll had advised the County Commissioners not to pay LeFors the reward money until the appeal had been decided by the Supreme Court. Clark stated that LeFors told him that Stoll wanted to withhold the money to keep LeFors “in line.”81 The affidavit stated that LeFors told Clark that Stoll “had better be careful how he treated him [LeFors] since he knew that LeFors had knowledge of evidence which would clear Tom Horn and that if he had been working on the other side of the case he [LeFors] would have cleared him.82
The testimony and affidavits taken in the Horn case by both sides is extensive and nearly every statement made by any witness can be contradicted by testimony from another. The lone exception is Glendolene Kimmell. While supporting documents exist to support the charges and counter charges of the testimony of other witnesses, almost every piece of evidence referred to in discrediting her testimony has been removed from the case files and presumably destroyed.
There is also no evidence that Glendolene ever visited Horn at the Laramie County jail, and quite certainly there is no reference to her at all in the existing texts of his personal correspondence with Coble, especially in the final letter dashed off to Coble during the final minutes before Horn was escorted to the gallows. While Horn was undeniably under the greatest stress imaginable at the time that letter was written, he thanked Coble profusely for Bakker goes on to state that, in his opinion, his analysis of the historical evidence supports the conclusion that Horn was expendable and that the large cattle interests would find it a relief to have him out of the way.
…The large cattle interests no longer felt the need of Horn’s services, either real or threatened…the death of Willie dropped a perfect opportunity into the laps of the “cattle barons”…Horn could be blamed for the killing and hung, and they would be forever free of the risk of him telling all he knew about their activity…Horn himself meant little to them – hired guns like him were easily had, should another be needed in the future…The strategy by which this was done was remarkably simple. LeFors was enlisted to find or procure evidence against Horn sufficient to have him arrested and charged with the murder. The finest legal defense that money could buy was then retained, and set to doing the minimum necessary to believably defend Horn. It has been written that 100 leading members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association each contributed $1000 to the cost of Horn’s defense – the only thing not made clear is what result they expected for their money. I submit they got exactly what they paid for.84
After penning the vindication document in Denver in 1904, Glendolene seemed to simply vanish. Alone and undoubtedly still struggling to cope with the trauma of her recent incarceration and the death of Horn, it is likely that Glendolene yearned for the comfort and security of her family. Sometime between 1904 and 1907, Glendolene returned to her family in Hannibal, Missouri, where she resided with her mother and her grandparents at 321 North 5th Street.85 She remained there, working as a stenographer, until 1913, when her name again disappeared from the Hannibal city directories.86 Her whereabouts for the next several years are uncertain.
After Glendolene’s departure, Frances moved in with her sister Aurelia Ballou at 905 Paris in Hannibal. In 1913 or 1914, Glendolene’s mother, Frances, decided to make a bold change in her own life, which would eventually reunite her with Glendolene permanently.
In 1912, eastern publisher Edward Gardner Lewis, the son of a New England Episcopal clergyman, left the planned colony he had created at University City, Missouri, and headed west, determined to create a new utopian, planned colony in California.87 The site Lewis selected was the 23,000 acre Rancho Atascadero. Rancho Atascadero had been created by the Mexican government when they secularized mission lands in 1833. Eventually, the Rancho was purchased by J. H. Henry, who later sold the land to Edward Lewis.
An enormous “Tent City” sprang up almost immediately after Lewis’ purchase of Rancho Atascadero was finalized. Investors flooded into Rancho Atascadero from throughout the United States, anxious to select home sites on land for which they had already made a down payment. Curiously, by 1915, Frances Kimmell, a woman now seventy-two years of age, who had lived her entire life within a 120-mile radius of her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, was among the eager investors in the Atascadero colony. Frances lived in “Tent City,” waiting patiently for her small, clapboard bungalow to be built on Lot Twelve-A, in Block MC of Rancho Atascadero.88 By September 18, 1915, Frances was settled in her new home at 7600 Cortez Avenue, on a shady corner lot in the new colony of Atascadero.
Glendolene must have joined her mother in Atascadero soon afterward. On February 11, 1919, Frances Kimmell executed a deed of conveyance, transferring title to her property to Glendolene.89 The source of Frances and Glendolene’s means of support during their years in Atascadero is unknown. It is likely that Frances had her husband’s military pension, which would not have been sufficient for their support, along with inherited money from the Pierce family estate. Glendolene and Frances are both listed in the San Luis Obispo county directories as homemakers, so it is unlikely that Glendolene was employed outside the home after joining her mother in Atascadero.
Glendolene never married. While we will probably never know why Glendolene remained single throughout her life, it is doubtful that she spent forty-six years of her life pining away for Tom Horn. She was barely twenty-two at the time of their encounter at the Miller home. Like many young people of that age, she was probably quite impressionable and prone to infatuation with what she perceived as the “romance of the West,” as well as a bit overly optimistic in her assessment of her own worldliness and sophistication. Although she may have seemed “stuck on” Horn during their encounter at the Miller home, as Victor Miller testified, it is doubtful that this infatuation would have survived as she matured, particularly since there is no evidence that Horn ever encouraged the relationship after his one visit to the Miller ranch.
What seems more plausible is that Glendolene chose the life of a single, or “odd” woman out of a sense of responsibility to care for her aging mother or out of a desire to pursue her own interests. It was not uncommon after the turn of the century for women to choose other paths beside marriage. Perhaps Glendolene chose this course as well.
Glendolene and Frances resided together in Atascadero until October 11, 1930, when Frances suffered a fatal heart attack in the yard of their home while working in her flowerbeds.90 Regardless of what their source of income had been during their time in Atascadero, it appears that they were financially strapped by the time of Frances’s death. In a night letter to Horace Dakin, her uncle, Glendolene wrote: “…Mother passed away October eleventh suddenly. She wished for burial in Hannibal and I agree. I lack money. Will you advance transportation charges for her?”91
Apparently, the money was quickly sent and Glendolene arranged for a funeral service for her mother to be held at the chapel of Gray’s Funeral Home in Santa Ysabel, California, on October 14, 1930.92 She then accompanied her mother’s body, which was shipped back to Hannibal by train. A second funeral was held in the chapel of Smith’s Funeral Home in Hannibal, prior to Frances’ interment at Riverside Cemetery.93
After burying her mother, Glendolene returned home to Atascadero, where her troubles continued. In 1931, financially strapped and in the throes of the Great Depression, Glendolene was unable to pay the taxes on her home. The following year, the property was sold at a tax sale for $18.87, the amount of her outstanding taxes.94 Under California law, Glendolene had five years to redeem her property by paying the back taxes, but she was apparently unable to do so. The property was legally conveyed to the state of California in 1937, but despite losing title to her property, Glendolene continued to reside in her home until 1946. It is almost certain that she was on the California relief rolls from the 1930s onward, although official documentation of this has not been obtained.
By 1946, at the age of sixty-eight, Glendolene’s eyesight was reportedly failing and she was suffering from arteriosclerosis.95 She was destitute and a ward of the state of California. Unable to care for herself any longer, Glendolene said good-bye to her home in Atascadero for the last time and took up residence in the Sun Flower Haven Rest Home, at 484 Almond Avenue, in Long Beach, California.96 Glendolene lived at Sun Flower Haven until her death on September 12, 1949, at the age of seventy.97 Her death certificate lists the cause of death as generalized arteriosclerosis.
By the time of her death, Glendolene had survived John C. Coble, Tom Horn’s staunchest friend, Joe Lefors, who obtained the infamous Horn “confession,” and her old nemesis Laramie County Prosecuting Attorney Walter Stoll by many years. Nearly bankrupted by the cost of Horn’s defense, and alienated from his partner in the Iron Mountain Ranch Company after a nasty lawsuit, Coble left the Iron Mountain country to try ranching near Farson, Wyoming. Unable to make a go of it, and suffering financial reverses in other economic ventures, the despondent Coble decided to take his own life. On December 4, 1914, he walked into the lobby of a hotel in Elko, Nevada, wrote an anguished letter to his wife, assuring her of his love. The despondent Coble then placed the barrel of his pistol in his mouth and took his own life.98 Soon after the conclusion of the Horn case, Walter Stoll began exhibiting symptoms of dementia resulting from his long battle with alcoholism. Stoll died in Cheyenne in 1911 of heart failure. Joe LeFors’ career in law enforcement deteriorated rapidly after the Horn case. He wrote a self-aggrandizing autobiography in the years after Horn’s execution, which was published by his wife, Nettie, after LeFors’ death in 1940.99
Because of Glendolene’s association with the infamous Tom Horn case, it is inevitable that she will always be remembered in that context in the annals of Wyoming history. However, it should be remembered that she was representative of many young women who came west to educate the youth of Wyoming and other western states, laboring under difficult conditions, with few comforts, in the remote ranchlands of the state. She contributed her knowledge and her encouragement to the children of the Iron Mountain country. When she returned to Cheyenne to intervene on Horn’s behalf, she appears to have conducted herself with composure, grace and dignity. There is no evidence to indicate that she ever engaged in any actions that would have justified the attacks on her virtue, which she sustained during the course of Horn’s trial and appeals. Although she had been absent from Wyoming for more than 46 years, the stigma of her association with Horn, which sullied her reputation in life, continued even in death. Glendolene’s unfortunate experiences while attempting to save Horn’s life lend credence to the old adage that “no good deed shall go unpunished.”
Mottell’s funeral home in Long Beach handled the arrangements for Glendolene’s funeral, which was held on September 23, 1949 at Westminster Memorial Park, in Westminster, California, a suburb of Long Beach.100 Shaded by a canopy of aged, gnarled oaks, Glendolene lies in an unmarked grave in a peaceful, garden-like memorial park, far from her loved ones and far from the long-ago troubles in the Iron Mountain country of Wyoming.
2 “Jonathan Pierce: A Family Saga, Part II,” Hannibal Courier-Post, 9 July 1994.
5 Roberta Hagood, telephone conversation with author, 13 May 1992.
6 Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell. “Miss Kimmell’s Statement,”Life of Tom Horn:Government Scout and Interpreter (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964) 244.
7 Death Certificate for Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell,12 September 1949, Department of Public Health, County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.
8 Laramie County School District Clerk’s Report, Record Group 1125, Wyoming State Archives and Historical Department (hereinafter cited as WSAHD) 19-20.
9 Reports of the Laramie County School District Clerk to County Superintendent of Schools Elizabeth Hawes, Record Group 1125, WSAHD, 64-65.
11 Chip Carlson, Tom Horn: Killing Men Is My Specialty (Cheyenne: Beartooth Corral, 1991) 78.
13 Inquest into the Death of William Nickell and the Shooting of Kels Nickell, Record Group 0001.16, WSAHD, 369.
14 Kimmell, 244.
15 Inquest Transcript, 91.
16 Kimmell, 244.
17 Inquest Transcript, 91. Trial Testimony, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn, 598.
18 Ibid., 93.
19 Ibid., 53-54, 60, 264,
20 Ibid., 92, 284, 288.
21 Ibid., 83.
22 Ibid., 96.
23 Carlson, 100.
24 Kimmell, 249.
25 Laramie County Prison Calendar, 1901, Record Group 1003,WSAHD,71-72.
26 Inquest Transcript, 80-97.
27 Inquest Transcript, ____.
28 Affidavit of Elizabeth Hawes, 27 October 1903, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn. District Court, First Judicial District of Wyoming.
30 Dean F. Krakel, The Saga of Tom Horn, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1954) 52.
31 Ibid., 51-52.
32 Rocky Mountain News. 18 October 1902.
33 “Will Tom Horn’s Sweetheart Turn State’s Evidence?”Cheyenne Daily Leader, 13 October 1902. Whether or not Glendolene Kimmell was multilingual is unknown. It has also been reported that she was of mixed ancestry, part Japanese, part Korean, and part German. In truth, Glendolene was a Caucasian woman of German and British ancestry.
34 Rocky Mountain News, nd.
35 Subpoena, 15 September 1902, Record Group 0001.16, WSAHD.
36 Cheyenne Leader., 1902.
37 Laramie Republican Boomerang. n.d.
38 Affidavit of William B. Ross, 11 November 1903, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn. Mr. Ross, a Democrat, became Governor of Wyoming, defeating Republican candidate John W. Hay in the election of 1922. Ross died two days before the general election of 1924 and was succeeded in office by his wife, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who was the first woman ever elected to the office of Governor.
40 Kimmell, 254.
41 Krakel, 206.
42 Ibid., 209-210.
43 Affidavit of Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, 10 November 1902, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn.
44 Krakel, 218.
45 Kimmell, 255.
46 Laramie Boomerang, 4 November 1903.
47 Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell to Mrs. H. Zimmerman, 7 November 1903, Record Group 0001.16, WSAHD.
48 Information, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, District Court, First Judicial District of Wyoming, 10 November 1903.
49 Wyoming Tribune. 10 November 1903.
50 Laramie Boomerang. 11 November 1903.
51 Affidavit of Van L. Guilford, 11 November 1903, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn.
52 Laramie Boomerang, 15 November 1903.
53 Cheyenne Daily Leader, 15 November 1903.
54 Laramie Boomerang, 18 November 1903.
55 Motion, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, 24 November 1903.
56 Order of Judge Richard H. Scott, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, 25 November 1903.
57 Laramie Boomerang, 28 November 1903.
58 Motion, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, n.d.
59. Interrogatories, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, nd.
60 Order of Judge Charles E. Carpenter, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, nd.
61 Motion to Nolle and Statement, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, 11 December 1903.
63 Order of Judge John E. Carpenter, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell, nd.
64 Kimmell, 244-264.
65 Ibid., 254.
67 Ibid., 255.
68 E. E. Enterline to J. A. Van Orsdel, 5 November 1903. Correspondence of the Attorney General for the State of Wyoming, Record Group 0015, WSAHD.
69 Statement of Acting Wyoming Governor Fenimore Chatterton, 14 November 1903, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn, Record Group 0001.16, WSAHD.
71 Kimmell, 255.
73 Ibid., 258.
74 Statement of Acting Wyoming Governor Fenimore Chatterton. 14 November 1903.
75 Kimmell, 258-259.
76 Morgan, Perl Wilbur, A History of Wyandotte County, Kansas and Its People (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1911) 856.
77 Ibid., 855-856.
78 Inquest Transcript, 357.
79 Ibid., 355,
80 Ibid., 83.
81 Affidavit of Edward T. Clark, 26 October 1903, in the case of State of Wyoming v. Tom Horn.
83 Johan P. Bakker. Tracking Tom Horn. (Union Lake: Talking Boy, 1993) 127.
84 Ibid., 131-132.
85 Hannibal, Missouri City Directory, 1907.
86 Ibid., 1911.1914.
87 “A History of Atascadero.” Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, nd.
88 Atascadero News. 17 October 1930.
89 Deed of Conveyance,11 February 1919, Atascadero Recorder, Atascadero, California.
90 Certificate of Death for Frances A. Kimmell, 11 October 1930, Department of Public Health, San Luis Obispo County, San Luis Obispo, California.
91 Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell to Horace E. Dakin, 11 October 1930, Chapel of the Roses, Atascadero, California.
92 Statement for Funeral Services for Mrs. Frances A. Kimmell, 14 October 1930, Chapel of the Roses, Atascadero, California.
93 Hannibal Courier-Post, 18 October 1930.
94 Conveyance of Real Estate, 1 July 1937. Atascadero Recorder, Atascadero, California.
95 Death Certificate for Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell. John Charles Thompson, “In Old Wyoming,” Wyoming State Tribune, 6 October 1949.
96 Death Certificate for Glendolene Myrtle Kimmell.
98 John C. Coble, Biographical File, American Heritage Center, Laramie, Wyoming.
99 Joe LeFors, Wyoming Peace Officer: An Autobiography. Laramie: Laramie Printers, 1953.
100 Order for Interment or Cremation, 29 September 1949, Westminster Memorial Park, Westminster, California.