Historical Details

Jailbreak! Notorious Horse Thief Escapes New Jail

Courtesy of Various Sources, 05/26/2022

Niobrara County News, May 14, 1914


Tex Tipton is now in jail at Lusk awaiting trial on the charge of horse stealing. A month or so ago, A.A. Dieleman purchased a team of horses from Tex, one of which was accompanied by a Bill of Sale. The other was recognized as being similar to Willson Bros. horses, and,  as it had a brand that looked as though it had been tampered with, Mr. Dieleman phoned to Lusk and had George and Gene Willson come up and with Mr. Dieleman, Thomas Black, and Robert Burhoop, they went out, caught the horse and made a thorough investigation of the brand which gave strong evidence that it had been changed from the Willson brand as after the hair had been shaved from around the brand. Willson's brand only was evident, the marks which had been made to change it, only being hair brands.

As to whether Tipton purchased this horse from another party or not is not known, but a trial is expected today and the guilty party will no doubt receive a severe sentence.


Niobrara County News, May 21, 1914

J.W. Burke, Carl Baughn, Tom Black, Robert Burhoop, George Brooks and
Ira Wilson were subpoenaed to the trial of Tex Tipton vs. A.A.
Dieleman, plaintiff, at Lusk Monday.

Niobrara County News, May 21, 1914


Tex Tipton at the preliminary hearing last Monday at Lusk plead guilty of the charge of horse stealing, but on Monday night escaped from the new county jail and so far, has made good his get-a-way. Tex had his bed fixed to look as though he was in it; the cell door unlocked and a hole in the wall about 9 x 10 inches. Sheriff Rogers explains that in shutting the cell door accidentally it did not lock and the rest explains itself. 

A sheriff's posse was immediately sent in search for him, but so far, we have heard of no report of any trace of him.


The Van Tassell Pioneer, May 23, 1914


Tex Tipton, a notorious horse thief and head of a gang of rustlers who have been operating their illegal practices in the territory adjacent to Manville, was last week arrested by Sheriff Rogers on a warrant sworn out by Willson Brothers for the theft of a horse which Tex disposed of to A.A. Dieleman, assistant cashier of the Bank of Manville. So bold had he become in in work that he was selling the stolen animals right under the noses of the owners and had obliterated or altered the brands so that they could not be easily distinguished. Mr. Dieleman was a little suspicious after he bought the horse and and George Willson come and look at the animal which he at once recognized as his property; hence the arrest. Tex had also sold a team to Otis Hughes and a single horse to Jim Tenney and several others which the Willson Brothers were unable to trace.

On being brought to trial before Judge root he pleaded guilty to the charge of horse-stealing and and was remanded into the custody of the sheriff to await sentence at the next term of the district court. 

After giving him his supper and locking him safely in a cell, as he supposed, for the night, Sheriff Rogers came town town Monday evening, and between that time and his return to the jail building about ten o'clock Tex made  his "get-away" and the sheriff did not discover the fact till morning although Mrs. Rogers mentioned to him when he came home that she had heard peculiar noises coming from below, but so sure was he that the prisoner was securely bolted and barred in, and as all was quiet when the sheriff arrived at the building, he did not think it worth while to make any investigation. 

Tuesday morning on going to the cell-room Sheriff Rogers was amazed to find the bird flown and on further examination discovered one of the ventilators removed and a hole chiseled through the outer brick wall large enough to allow the fellow to make his exit. There are two theories as to how Tex got out of his cell; either that he had placed a small block of wood  in the doorway to prevent the door shutting tight, or that the door was insecurely fastened on account of the bolt mechanism working badly as was shown by the sheriff Tuesday morning. In either event, it is suspected that he had planned to skip and must have had an accomplice, because it would seem impossible to make the hole in the wall so quietly and quickly without tools. He must also have been something of a contortionist to have wriggled his body through a 9 x 12 inch opening.

There is a moral attached to the episode which will not be lost on Sheriff Rogers and it is an even bet that another such event will not occur during his incumbency. And Tex is
perhaps "better off."

The Jireh Tribune, June 6, 1914


It seems to take a great deal of explaining to make it clear why a
prisoner escaped from the county jail at Lusk recently. The door to the
corridor was unlocked and the prisoner knocked a hole in the brick wall
large enough to crawl through. The pounding necessary to take the exit
does not seem to have aroused any one around the jail, and the fact that
the door locked only four times out of five had never been discovered.
Now a further discovery is made that the building is lopping to one
side, and the door frame is warped out of line. The door would lock at
first when it was standing open. The county commissioners ought to
investigate the condition of the building, for some morning our worthy
sheriff may awaken to find the structure entirely gone, the prisoners
escaped, and himself left poised in the air with no way to reach terra


Niobrara County News, June 4, 1914

Thief Whistles Himself Out of Jail

Summoned home by his wife because a thumping, whistling and shuffling
in the county jail had alarmed her. Sheriff Harry R. Rogers remarked
that the only prisoner in the jail, “Tex” Tipton, a confessed horse
thief, might, if he enjoyed making such sounds in his cell, “go to it.”
The sheriff though no more of the matter until morning, when he found
Tipton gone and a hole in the brick wall of the jail.

The horse thief had battered the hole with a plank and meanwhile has
shuffled and whistled to allay the suspicion of anyone who might hear
his blows. A reward of $300 is offered for his recapture.


Niobrara County News, September 17, 1914

Word was received in Manville Sunday of the capture of Tex Tipton at Idaho Falls, Idaho, who while being brought back made a bold dash out of the car window for liberty at 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning near Laramie City. He was later captured and will be returned to Lusk, Wyo. It will be remembered Tex broke jail at Lusk, some months ago while waiting sentence for horses stolen.

The Van Tassell Pioneer, September 19, 1916


The Notorious Horse-Thief and Jail-Breaker Landed Safely in Niobrara’s Bastille

Tuesday afternoon by indefatigable determined sleuth-work Sheriff
Harry R. Rogers of Niobrara County has at last placed “Tex’ Tipton in
the cell-room of the county jail from which he escaped on the night of
May 18th, 1914; and by doing so Sheriff Rogers has redeemed
himself in the eyes of the citizens of the county and given the lie to
those who asserted that he was in “cahoots” with criminals.

Not once since the memorable morning when the sheriff discovered that
“Tex” had broken jail and made a miraculous escape, has Mr. Rogers let
up for an instant in an endeavor to locate his man. Not since the
memorable morning when the sheriff discovered that “Tex” had broken jail
and made a miraculous escape, has Mr. Rogers let up for an instant in
an endeavor to locate his man. He has run down clue after clue only to
find that the one suspected was not “Tex:” He has spent hundreds of his
own money in the pursuit and when he had almost given up hope of ever
seeing the slippery “Tex” again he received a message from Scott Hazen
of Thermopolis stating that Tipton was seen in the Jackson Hole country
at Jackson Lake about Sept. 1st, Sheriff Rogers immediately
wired instructions to Deputy Sheriff Huett of Fremont County to start in
pursuit, and he followed “Tex” for 150 to 200 miles through the
mountains; he arrived just 2 hours after Tipton was arrested by Sheriff
Smulliner at Idaho Falls, Idaho, who also had instructions from Sheriff
Rogers to look out for and arrest the fugitive.

Sheriff Rogers, in order to save expense, wired that “Tex” be guarded carefully and brought to Lusk by rail.

Nothing further was heard of the deputy and his prisoner until
Saturday morning when a telegram was received stating that “Tex” had
jumped from the window of a moving train near Laramie that same morning
and again escaped. Imagine the sheriff’s feelings on reading this
announcement after a chase of months and when he had the culprit almost
in his hands again! Probably he did not wish that he had gone after him
himself? Good news followed however on Monday morning when it was
announced in a message that “Tex” had been re-captured.

The coup was effected by Patrolman J.C. Swift of Cheyenne, who
identified the criminal while walking east on the Burlington tracks on
the outskirts of the city, from a description wired the Cheyenne
headquarters from Laramie. He made no particular show of resistance when
apprehended, but it is said he was discovered “jimmying” the lock of
his cell door an hour after being lodged in the city.

Tipton is a dangerous character, and Sheriff Rogers is to be congratulated on having him again in custody.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Historical Niobrara County Jail View Record
Historical Quilt Squares - Courthouse and Jail View Record