Joseph “Joe” S. LeFors – Fighting Battles with the Wild Bunch

Joe LaFors

Joe LaFors

Joseph “Joe” S. LeFors was a U.S. Deputy Marshal who pursued several train robbers and other outlaws in the northwest.

Born in Paris, Texas, in 1865, LeFors grew up to be a cowboy, and after driving a herd to Wyoming in 1885, he stayed there. Later, he became an inspector-detective responsible for tracking stolen cattle in Wyoming and Montana. In the process, he was involved in several gunfights. In 1899, he rode with a posse sent to capture those responsible for the Willcox Train Robbery and was appointed as a U.S. Deputy Marshal the same year. In this capacity, he pursued several train robbers and other outlaws in the northwest.

In 1901, he became famous for arresting and documenting a confession from the former lawman turned hired killer, Tom Horn. Horn was later tried and sentenced to death. and hanged. In 1902, Lefors allegedly worked for the Iron Mountain Ranch Company in Helena, Montana, to infiltrate a gang of cattle rustlers. However, he unsuccessfully aided the gang and was fired in 1904.

Afterward, little is known about his life other than he died on October 1, 1940, and is buried in the Willow Grove Cemetery in Buffalo, Wyoming.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2024.

Also See:

Adventures in the American West

The American Frontier

Old West Lawmen

U.S. Marshals – Two Centuries of Bravery