Texarkana, TX 50° View Live Radar Wed H 56° L 51° Thu H 62° L 50° Fri H 55° L 51° Weather Sponsored By:

Local woman's ancestor a legendary Old West lawman

Local woman's ancestor a legendary Old West lawman

LeFors' participation in the pursuit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid commemorated on Union Pacific coin

May 26th, 2018 by Karl Richter in Texarkana News

Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe LeFors, far right, poses for a photograph with the posse that set out to capture outlaws Butch Cassidy, Harry "the Sundance Kid" Longabaugh and the rest of the Wild Bunch gang after their robbery of a Union Pacific Railroad train in 1900 near Tipton, Wy. This image is engraved on a commemorative coin marking the 150th anniversary of the Union Pacific special agent force. Texarkana, Texas, Parks and Recreation Department employee Tammie Moore, LeFors' great-great-niece, recently found out about the coin when someone happened to give her supervisor one for his collection.

An unexpected bit of Tammie Moore's family history recently turned up at her workplace—in shiny metal form.

When someone gave Moore's supervisor in the Texarkana, Texas, Parks and Recreation Department a commemorative coin, she soon discovered that one of her great-great-uncles, noted Old West lawman Joe LeFors, is depicted on it.

The souvenir coin marks the 150th anniversary of Union Pacific Railroad's special agent force, the company's security arm. A UP special agent acquainted with Parks Department Recreation Specialist Eddie Aulds, Moore's boss, stopped by Aulds' office at the Southwest Center last week to give him one of the coins. A former Arizona trooper, Aulds collects law enforcement memorabilia including such coins and various badges.

When Moore saw the coin she called the special agent, Darin Archer, curious whether there was any connection to LeFors. Archer knew immediately who she meant.

"He said, 'Well, your uncle's right in the middle of that coin,'" Moore said. "What are the chances of that happening?" Archer told her LeFors was instrumental in the development of the UP special agents force.

On one side of the coin is an engraved reproduction of a photograph that shows LeFors, then a deputy United States marshal, and other members of a posse that set out to capture outlaws Butch Cassidy, Harry "the Sundance Kid" Longabaugh and the rest of the Wild Bunch gang after their robbery of a UP train in 1900 near Tipton, Wyoming.

The posse posed in front of the rail car it used in a tactic that was dramatized in the 1969 film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The posse traveled to train robbery scenes in the car to get there fast enough to track and chase the criminals.

"They would open the doors, and the marshals would come out on their horses," Moore said.

LeFors was born in Paris, Texas, in 1865 and went to Montana and Wyoming as a cowboy 20 years later. There he began his law enforcement career chasing cattle rustlers. In 1899, he took part in a posse hunting the Wild Bunch gang after it robbed a train near Wilcox, Wyoming, and thereafter the Marshals Service deputized him.

LeFors is best known for extracting a disputed murder confession from Wyoming gunman Tom Horn, which resulted in Horn's 1902 execution by hanging. After eight years as a marshal, LeFors did business in the mining, livestock and textile industries in Central and South America.

"Mr. Le Fors was a brave and fearless man, faithful to duty, never sparing himself when there was something to be done and to his efforts and accomplishments much credit is due for the suppression of lawlessness in this part of the west," said his October 1940 obituary in the Buffalo, Wyoming, Bulletin.

LeFors inspired the character Whispering Smith, protagonist of a 1906 Western novel, its 1926 and 1948 film adaptations, and a 1961 television series.

Moore said she was happy to know that her relative was remembered with respect and she is thankful to have learned more about him than the stories her grandmother told.

"I just always heard about him, and I wanted to find out," she said.

On Twitter: @RealKarlRichter

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com