(1849 - September 27, 1927)
Frank Canton is one of those mysterious characters of the old west. His real name was Joe Horner and he drifted with his family finally ending up in Denton County, Texas. Initially, he worked as a cowboy driving the herds north to Kansas and Nebraska. He drifted here and there serving as deputy sheriff, doing some cowboying and establishing his own ranch. He killed two people, was involved in a gunfight killing a black soldier, accused of bank robbery, rustling and assault. Captured by the Texas Rangers, he was set free for reasons unknown.
He drifted into Wyoming with the new alias Frank Canton and became a range detective for the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. Frank started his own ranch, was elected sheriff in 1882 and became involved in the Johnson County War. He lead the pursuit to get rid of Nate Champion . He was, also, suspected of back shooting other small ranchers in the area. When the army was called in to stop the troubles in Johnson County Wyoming, Frank and others were arrested, but taken to Cheyenne. Predictably, Frank, the cattle barons hired gunman, was set free.
He became undersheriff in Pawnee, OK, a deputy U.S. Marshal in OK and went to Alaska to find his share of the gold. Here he was appointed U.S. Marshal for the Yukon District, returned to Oklahoma, appointed adjunct general and finally was employed by the Texas Cattle Growers Association.
It's hard to characterize Frank Canton, but based on his activities during the Johnson County War in Wyoming, he was a calculating cold blooded killer.
Frank Canton is buried in the Fairlawn Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Information compiled by Steve Grimm
Drawing by Richard Florence
Books About Frank Canton
Alias Frank Canton by Robert K DeArment
This great book reveals all that is known about Frank Canton. Fine writing, documented sources and revealing photos make this an excellent read.