Saturday, February 2, 2019

John M. Larn -- Western Lawman and Outlaw

By Paisley Kirkpatrick
John M. Larn (March 1, 1849 – June 23, 1878) was a western American lawman, and later an outlaw.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, Larn traveled to Colorado as a teenager where he found work as a ranch hand until murdering his employer during an argument over a horse. Fleeing to New Mexico, Larn killed a local sheriff he thought was tracking him.
Larn settled in Fort Griffin. He eventually married the daughter of John Alexander Matthews and within several years had become a well-known citizen of Shackelford County. After years of service with the local vigilante committees, Larn was elected county sheriff in April 1876. Shortly after becoming elected, Larn agreed to a contract with the local territorial garrison to deliver three steers of cattle per day. Larn however, began planning with longtime friend and recently deputized John Selman to rustle cattle from neighboring ranchers in place of his own. Suspicions were soon raised as ranchers noticed while their herds were slowly shrinking, Larn's place remained the only ranch unaffected and, after discovering the scheme, Larn was eventually forced to resign on March 7, 1877.
No charges were brought against him. Larn continued to live in Shackelford County until June 1878 when he wounded a local rancher by the name of Treadwell (who had reportedly uncovered the cattle rustling). Finally, a warrant was issued for Larn's arrest in June, 1878, and William Cruger was tasked with arresting his former boss. Larn was soon arrested by Sheriff William Cruger on June 22, 1878 and taken to Albany where Cruger ordered the local blacksmith to shackle Larn to the floor of the jail house as to prevent a breakout by Larn's supporters. However, when vigilantes from Fort Griffin arrived the following night, finding they could not lynch Larn they instead shot him as he was still shackled in his cell.


  1. Wow, Paisley, that is very interesting. Fort Griffin and Albany are not that far from where I live. I'd never heard of Larn. Thanks for the info.

  2. It seemed to be such a fine line between law and outlaw for more than a few of those early 'settlers' Doris

    1. Yes, it does Doris. I don't think people felt that safe when they contacted the law. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy seeing how the west was won.


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