L. H. Musgrove

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L.H. Musgrove
Born Date of birth missing
Como, Panola County, Mississippi, U.S.
Died November 23, 1868
Denver, Colorado
Occupation Outlaw

L. H. Musgrove (lynched November 23, 1868) was an outlaw of the American West who was sprung from jail in Denver, Colorado, and hanged by a vigilante mob. Over a number of years, he was charged with several murders and the theft of horses.[1]

Musgrove was born in Como in Panola County in northwestern Mississippi. He left the American South to join the California Gold Rush, perhaps in the early 1850s. He killed several men in Wyoming, Nevada, and California. He is known to have traveled on the Overland Trail during the Civil War, when in 1863, he was arrested for murder at Fort Halleck, Wyoming. He was then taken to Denver, where he was freed on a legal technicality. Musgrove then directed a network of horse and cattle thieves who raided government posts and wagon trains along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and followed the Cherokee Trail into Wyoming. Many of the thefts were blamed on Native Americans, and Musgrove was known on occasion to disguise himself as an Indian to thwart law enforcement officers. Profits were particularly large, compared to wages that rarely exceeded $2 per day at that time. Musgrove established his headquarters in the previously abandoned Bonner Street stagecoach station, a natural rock fortress which provided easy access to northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.[1]

Captured horse thieves in the West were usually quickly hanged from a tree or a telegraph. Musgrove was apprehended, handcuffed, and taken to the Larimer Street prison in Denver. He predicted that he would soon escape, words which ignited the community. A vigilance committee of some fifty citizens encountered no resistance from prison guards as they removed Musgrove from confinement. Musgrove was stood on a wagon, a noose was placed about his neck, and the driver pushed away the wagon to bring about the execution.[1]

Before the wagon was removed from under Musgrove's feet, he was allowed time to write some letters, and he was permitted to finish his cigarette, which said one source he "did in the most nonchalant manner."[2] Another source says that Musgrove "calmly puffed a cigar to its bitter butt."[3]

In 1955, in the final episode of the syndicated television series Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis, Musgrove is portrayed by John Archer. In the story plot, Musgrove steals a herd of horses from a railroad stockyard to use as collateral to buy ranch land in Colorado. Jim Davis as fictional railroad detective Matt Clark tracks the stolen herd, while his co-star Kristine Miller as Jonesy investigates a murder at the railroad telegraph office. The detectives soon suspect that both matters are related.[4]

Early in his career, the American artist and sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor did a drawing of Musgrove's lynching.


  1. ^ a b c "The Musgrove Gang: Horse Thieves and Cattle Rustlers". over-land.com. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft, "Popular Tribunals, Vol. 1", p. 716. Google Books. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Reviews, p. 375". 14: 375–376. JSTOR 40168116. 
  4. ^ "Stories of the Century". Classic TV Archive. Retrieved January 15, 2010.