Little is known about Steve Long's early life or childhood. He had established a saloon in Laramie, Wyoming, entering that business with his half-brothers, Ace Moyer and Con Moyer. Both Ace and Con would help found Laramie. Long reportedly had spent several years as one of the early versions of a gunfighter before he was elected Deputy Marshal of Laramie in 1867. It is believed that he served during the Civil War, in the Confederate States Army, but under a different name, and that he ventured to Wyoming around 1866.
Lawman and outlaw
Long soon earned a reputation as a particularly violent lawman, killing eight men in gunfights within two months. One incident in particular occurred on October 22, 1867, when Long opened fire on eight men during a street brawl after his orders to cease were ignored, killing five of the men. He rarely arrested anyone, choosing instead to either intimidate them with the threat of force or shoot them.
Long and his brothers, however, used their forceful personalities and his position as the Deputy Marshal to their own advantage. Within months of his acceptance to that position, they had forced several local ranchers to sign over to them the deeds to their properties. Several of those who refused were later confronted while alone by Long, who killed them, always claiming later that they reached for a weapon. If they did not carry a pistol or rifle, they would have one placed on their person by Long after he had killed them. There were never any witnesses. It is alleged that Long killed at least nine men in that fashion during a four-month period. Local residents called the saloon the "Bucket of Blood" because of the violence that often happened inside. By October 1868, Long had killed thirteen men. Another seven men had been killed under suspicious circumstances, with Long suspected, but that was never confirmed and there was no evidence to support that he had been the killer. He made little effort to find the alleged murderers, leading to even more speculation that he had actually committed those murders. All of those seven men had also previously refused to sign over deeds to Long and his brothers.
A local rancher and the first sheriff of Albany County, N. K. Boswell, organized several other ranchers to conspire against the three brothers. Boswell insisted that if they could watch Long closely enough, eventually they could catch him in the act of committing a crime, and on that pretense they could act out against him with the law on their side. On October 18, 1868, Long attempted to rob a prospector named Rollie "Hard Luck" Harrison. Harrison produced a pistol, and a gunfight erupted between the two. Long was wounded and retreated. Harrison was killed, dying as a result of his wounds before he was able to relay who shot him to anyone else.
Long confessed to his fiancee how he was wounded, and she in turn told N. K. Boswell. Boswell organized several men in the town, and they entered the saloon owned by Long and his brothers on October 28. The mob overwhelmed the three and led them to an unfinished cabin in town. Long was quiet throughout the process, having only one request, that he be allowed to remove his boots, stating "My mother always said I'd die with my boots on". Barefoot, he was lynched, along with Con and Ace Moyer by hanging them from the rafters of the cabin. There were no legal actions taken against the members of the lynch mob. A photograph of the three men after they were hanged was taken, and on the back was written, "(1) Gunfighter "Big" Steve Long, (2) Con Moyer, (3) Ace Moyer, A lynching in Laramie Wyo. -1868- Con & Ace were founders of Laramie Wyoming!". Following his death, Long's fiancee erected a marker in his memory.
- The lynching of Big Steve Long
- Lynching of Steve Long, Ace Moyer, and Con Moyer
- Valuable Photographs of the Old West