Samuel “Sam” Ketchum – Cowboy Outlaw


Sam Ketchum

Sam Ketchum

Samuel “Sam” Wesley Ketchum, along with his brother, Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum, were members of a gang of outlaws that terrorized Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas in the 1890s.

Sam was born on January 4, 1854 in Caldwell County, Texas to Green Berry and Temperance Katherine Wydic Ketchum. Growing up in San Saba County, the boys grew up to work as cowboys on several ranches throughout west Texas and northern and eastern New Mexico.

However, by 1896, the pair had turned to a life of crime, robbing businesses, post offices and trains in New Mexico. The two soon formed the Ketchum Gang which included a number of other outlaws, such as Will CarverElza Lay, and Ben Kilpatrick, who also rode with Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch. However, everything began to fall apart when Sam, along with Will Carver and Elza pulled a heist without Black Jack on July 11, 1899, in Folsom, New Mexico. Though they made off with some $50,000, they were soon pursued by a posse to a hideout near Cimarron, New Mexico. In the ultimate shootout that occurred, Sam Ketchum was seriously wounded, and Sheriff Edward Farr was killed.

Carver and Elza were able to escape, but Sam Ketchum was taken to the penitentiary in Santa Fe, where he later died of blood poisoning on July 24, 1899. He was buried in the Odd Fellows rest Cemetery, now the Fairview Cemetery on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe.


©Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.

Also See: 

Outlaws on the Frontier

Outlaw Gangs

Lawmen of the Old West

Old West