40 – “Queen Ann” Bassett’s Trial Transcripts

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

If you’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon even a fraction of NW Colorado’s fascinating history, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Ann Bassett from Brown’s Park. Known as the “Queen of the Cattle Rustlers”, Ann’s story is one of the most captivating to come out of the American West.
In 1900 Ann’s fiancé, Mat Rash, was murdered in his cabin by the West’s most infamous assassin, Tom Horn. A couple months later one of Ann’s dear friends, Isam Dart, was also gunned-down as another victim of Horn’s.*
Though Tom Horn was the trigger man, Ann ultimately blamed one man in particular for the murders: Ora Haley. Haley owned the Two Bar cattle operation—the largest in NW Colorado. He was convinced that ranchers in Brown’s Park had made a habit of growing their herds from Two Bar stock (cattle rustling). Ann believed, and evidence suggests that she was very likely correct, that Tom Horn was hired by Ora Haley as both retaliation and a scare tactic.
Over the next decade Ann was steadfast and vocal with her hatred towards Ora Haley. Also over the next decade, several more Two Bar cattle mysteriously disappeared in and around Brown’s Park. By 1911 Haley had had enough; he finally had Ann arrested and brought to trial on charges of cattle rustling.
At one point during her trial, as though out of a Hollywood script, Ann’s lawyer called Mr. Haley to the stand. After a light massaging of Ora’s ego, the lawyer eventually asked Haley how big his Two Bar operation was. To this, Ora proudly boasted the number of his sizeable herd in NW Colorado. The lawyer, hoping for just such an admission, pounced. He immediately asked why Ora’s stated figure was MUCH higher than what he reported to the county assessor. Regardless of the irrelevance to the charges against Ann, this self-perjury almost certainly played a role Ann’s acquittal.
Though found not-guilty, Ann later confessed, “…men enjoyed the pastime sport of having me arrested and dragged through the courts for various alleged crimes against the lordly Two-Bar – many of which I was as guilty as hell!”
Pictured here are several of the transcripts from the Ann Bassett trial in Craig, CO. Unfortunately, they are written in a form of old shorthand that we have been unable to decipher. If anybody out there can help point us in the right direction, we’re all ears!
*Tom Horn was never tried for these two murders before he was hung in 1903; however, the sheer amount of circumstantial evidence, combined with his own confession, leads to the conclusion that he was almost certainly the gunman.