Tom Ketchum and J.N. Powers

Tom Ketchum

It’s not clear why J.N. “Jap” Powers was murdered.

Maybe he was a cattle thief. Or he was unpopular with his neighbors around Knickerbocker, TX. Or his wife wanted him out of the way to take up with someone else. Or a combination of those things.

He was in his pasture on December 11, 1895 when two men came to talk. Powers ran; they put four bullets in him. Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum (photo) and others were indicted but nobody ever went to trial. Ketchum basically admitted to the crime later—but never gave the motive.

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