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A Black Sheep

Tom Pickett

Thomas Pickett was born at Camp Throckmorton, Wise County, Texas on May 27, 1856, but was raised in Decatur, Texas. By age seventeen, Tom was caught stealing cattle. According to legend, his father, a member of the Texas legislature, had to mortgage the family home to pay the bond for his son to be released from jail. After this, Tom became a Texas Ranger from April 1876 until August 1877. He then followed a cattle drive to Kansas and became a gambler there. In Kansas, Tom met Dirty Dave Rudabaugh and other unsavory characters. When Dave went to Las Vegas, New Mexico, Tom followed him. Tom was a member of the Dodge City Gang with Dave in Las Vegas and was a 'peace officer' there, having been appointed as one by Justice of the Peace (and leader of the Dodge City Gang) Hoodoo Brown. Allegedly, Tom became very unpopular in Vegas and someone put a contract for his head out. When Dave fled Las Vegas for killing a deputy sheriff, Tom followed him again, this time to Fort Sumner, where they both got work on the local Yerby ranch. Tom and Dave then hooked up with the Rustlers, led by Billy the Kid. Tom was with the Rustlers on December 19, 1880 when Tom Folliard, a fellow Rustler, was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse. Tom was also with the Rustlers when fellow Rustler Charlie Bowdre was killed by Garrett's posse at Stinking Springs on December 23, 1880. Tom and the other Rustlers, namely Billy the Kid, Rudabaugh, and Billy Wilson, were captured there by the posse. The Rustlers were taken to Las Vegas, where Tom was set free on $300 bail. He quickly fled New Mexico for Arizona and joined another cattle rustling gang there, which also included Billy Wilson. In Jan. 1884, the gang ambushed and killed four Mexicans near Seven Rivers, New Mexico. Pickett shortly thereafter quit the gang and got a job working on the Hash Knife Ranch in Arizona. In 1886 or '87, he got into a gunfight in which he suffered a shot to the leg. Afterwards, he got a job as a bartender in Holbrook, Arizona and married Kate Kelly in 1888, but his wife died shortly thereafter while giving birth to their first child, who presumably also died in the process. A short time later, Tom shot and killed an outlaw known as the Cimarron Kid. Thereafter, around 1890, he got a job driving the Fort Apache-Holbrook stage, as well as doing odd jobs around the Fort. He quit this job around 1909 and returned to Texas to visit his dying, blind mother. While there, he was surprised to face charges of cattle rustling stemming from indictments from 1879. He pled guilty to the charges and paid a fine of $137, but received no jail time. In 1912, Tom returned to Holbrook and resumed his job as bartender, while at the same time serving as a deputy. He lost both jobs in 1914, and thereafter he simply worked as ranchhand on various ranches. However, in the summer of 1923, he was appointed a deputy sheriff in Winslow under Sheriff John Earl. He later had to have his leg amputated due to the bullet he received in it in 1886 or '87. He died at Winslow on May 14, 1934.

Tom Pickett as an old man

This photo of Tom Pickett was taken around 1930 or so, a few years before his death.