Historical Details

First Homicide Occurred in Lusk on Evening of Aug. 30, 1886; Drunken Cowboy From Texas Ran Amuck for Several Days

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 05/28/1936


The first homicide in Lusk occurred Tuesday night, Aug. 30, 1886, when O.D. Crew sent a bullet through the brain of Thomas Mason. The citizenry were undoubtedly expecting a shooting affray to happen from the press reports which appeared in the issue of The Herald, Sept. 3rd. The circumstances were as follows:

O.D. Crew came to Wyoming from San Antonio, Texas, having charge of a herd of cattle from One Half, of the latter place, for Thomas Swain at Hat Creek. The cattle were delivered the previous week, and it was Crew's intention to go to the British Possessions. But finding the monte games fascinating he remained in Lusk until nearly all his money was squandered. He was partly intoxicated the entire time he was in town, and was the same man who shot through Hogles's saloon and Anderson's Hardware store the previous Saturday, and who fired into the middle of the street the Sunday before the fatal shooting scrape. He was represented as a bad man, and at that time was said to have killed a cook on the trail from Texas to Wyoming. He was a tall man, and slender, standing six feet two, and weighed about 175 pounds. he was about 35 years old, wore a small dark mustache and when last seen in the Lusk territory he had on a cowboy hat and a rather snake-colored coat.

Tuesday night after flourishing guns in several saloons and threatening to do up the town in general, and anyone opposing him in particular, he entered the restaurant of T. Kennasar, where he had been boarding, and began to shoot into the dishes and into the tent. The building located just south of the restaurant was occupied by a saloon by N.G. Cummings and James Franklin was in charge of the establishment. It was a small frame building, 12 by 16 feet, and was set on posts about one and one half or two feet higher than the restaurant. In Franklin's absence Thomas Mason had charge of the saloon, and at this particular time was standing behind the bar, on the north side of the building, cleaning the lamps, preparatory to lighting up for the evening. It was at this time the fatal shot was fired. Taking an upward course it passed through the south side of the tent, the north side of the saloon, and entered the back of Mason's head at the base of the brain, coming out just above the forehead. Death was instantaneous.

Mason was well known in the Lusk vicinity, having been a freighter for 15 years. He was spoken of as a quiet, inoffensive man, somewhat addicted to gambling. He was once employed at Camp Carlin as assistant to Tom Moore, chief packer there, but was better known as Tom Mason. He was about five feet 11 inches in height, about 45 years old and weighed 180 pounds.

Upon Crew's learning the effect of his shot he became more sober, and after taking a look at the body, he went into Sweeney's saloon and from there to one of the houses of ill-fame in the vicinity.

In the meantime, while citizens were sending for the justice, who lived a mile and a half west of Lusk, Crew's friends were not inactive. They went to the livery stable where Crew had his horses and taking two, one of which was saddled, they started him for a place of safety. It was generally considered he started out for the British Possessions.

Upon the arrival of the justice, a warrant was sworn out for the arrest of Crew and placed in the hands of Special Constable William Lane. He deputized William Hunsmith, and after searching the town thoroughly, they obtained horses and started north. They returned the next morning. The last word to reach Lusk as to Crew's whereabouts was that he was with his brother, going toward Montana.

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