Thomas Edward "Black Jack" Ketchum

Born: 31 Oct 1863, Richland Creek, TX
Died: 26 Apr 1901, Clayton, NM

American Outlaw

Common Ancestor:
Rice Davis
11th Gr Grandfather of Merle G Ladd 8th Gr Grandfather of Thomas Ketchum
John Davis Elijah Davis
Thomas Davis Martha Davis
Joanna Davis Martha Mead
Martha Corliss Bethia Richardson
Nathaniel C Ladd Joseph Ketcham
Henry Ladd Jacob Isreal Ketcham
Lemuel Ladd Edward Ketchum
Corrin Ladd Peter R Ketchum
Ira Ladd Green Berry Ketchum
Douglass C Ladd Thomas Ketchum
Irving L Ladd  
Allan D Ladd  
Merle G Ladd  
Relationship to Merle G Ladd:
9th Cousin 3 Times Removed
Thomas Edward Ketchum was born on October 31,1863 in San Saba County, Texas, son of Green Berry Ketchum and Temperance Katherine Wydick. Thomas Edward Ketchum had four siblings two brothers and two sisters His father died when he was only five years old and his mother was blind several years before she died in 1873.

Tom's brother Sam married and had two children, but left his wife when their son was only three. Tom and Sam were both cowboys working on ranches throughout west Texas and northern and eastern New Mexico. They were on many trail drives and got to know the territory, settlers and ranchers very well.

Tom Ketchum's first major crime was the murder of John N. "Jap" Powers, a neighbor in Tom Green County, Texas. Powers was shot down on December 12, 1895, by several men including Black Jack. He later admitted that he took part in the murder, but was paid to do it.

The brothers worked on the Bell Ranch, until early June, 1896, when they quit their jobs and stole some supplies. On June 10, they came to the small settlement of Liberty, north of present-day Tucumcari, where there was a store and post office operated by Levi and Morris Herstein. Tom and Sam robbed the store at night and then rode to the Pecos River. Levi and 3 or 4 men went after the Ketchums, and after a short gun battle most of the posse formed by Levi were dead.

After the Herstein killing, Tom and Sam joined friends in Arizona and they went on a killing and robbery spree in the Four Corners states.  They also rode with members of Butch Cassidy's Hole in the Wall Gang.

Will Christian was known as "Black Jack" and when he was killed in 1879 someone mistakenly identified Thomas as "Black Jack".  After Christian's death that people started calling Thomas "Black Jack", but people who knew him never called him that.

After many train robberies, a posse of law men hunted down the Ketchum gang.  After a short gun battle at Turkey Creek the outlaws escaped, but Sam was wounded so badly he was taken to a hospital and was turned in by a nurse. He later died of his wounds in the Santa Fe penitentiary.

Black Jack was trying to hold up a train by himself, but the conductor shot his left arm and Tom staggered off into the night. He was found at a water hole and surrendered peacefully.  He was taken to a hospital in Santa Fe where his arm was amputated. When his arm healed he was taken to Clayton for his trial. He pled innocent to most of the crimes he was charged. The judge found him guilty and he was sentenced to death by hanging. The hanging was delayed several times until law men heard rumors that old gang members were going to free Black Jack, so they pushed up his hanging to April 26 1901. His hanging turned out to be a big town event. People from the towns around Clayton came and the law men sold tickets to see Black Jack hang.  They sold little dolls of Black Jack hanging on a stick.

After the hanging, the sheriff took two blows with a hatchet before the rope was cut.  Black Jack fell to the ground, he had been beheaded.  Black Jack was buried at Clayton's Boot Hill, but was moved to the new cemetery in the 30's.