Newcastle in Weston County, Wyoming — The American West (Mountains)
Hanging of Diamond L. Slim Clifton
William C. Clifton worked as a cowpuncher on the Diamond L Ranch, where he acquired the nickname "Diamond L Slim." On March 15, 1903, he shot and killed John W. and Luella Foster Church in the Churches' homestead cabin on Porcupine Creek. Slim was quarreling with the Churches over money that he was supposed to have invested in a joint cattle venture. He tied their corpses together with rope and packed them two-and-a-half miles on a horse to Big Draw Gulch, where he buried them.
The Churches' disappearance caused concern among local herders. Because Slim was known to be the last person to see the couple, he was arrested in Gillette on April 7 on suspicion of murder. Authorities immediately sent Slim to the jail in Newcastle to avoid the formation of a lynch mob in Gillette. Slim confessed to the murder on April 18 in the Newcastle jail.
President Teddy Roosevelt visited Newcastle at the height of the tension surrounding the murders. Local authorities feared that a lynching might take place during the presidents's visit and temporarily moved Slim to a jail in Custer, South Dakota, until the president departed.
Knowing that a long rope would bring a quicker death, Slim is supposed to have said, "Give me a long drop, boys." The vigilantes used such a long rope that Slim was decapitated instantly.
Legend states that the town undertaker reattached Slim's head backwards. His boy was displayed in the window of a local hardware store prior to being buried.
Side bar on left
Local authorities moved Slim to several different locations to try and avoid a lynching. Gillette, where Slim was arrested is located 55 miles north of the Churches' homestead site and was a destination for cowpunchers who were friends and neighbors of the Churches. To avoid violence, lawmen in Gillette moved Slim to nearby Newcastle, a town located 75 miles northeast of the Churches' homestead site. He was later move to Custer, South Dakota, which is located 35 miles southeast of Newcastle.
Erected by Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Events. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #26 Theodore Roosevelt series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 27, 1903.
Location. 43° 51.258′ N, 104° 12.348′ W. Marker is in Newcastle, Wyoming, in Weston County. Marker is at the intersection of West Main Street (U.S. 16) and North Railroad Avenue, on the right when traveling west on West Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 301 West Main Street, Newcastle WY 82701, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Trains Power Newcastle (within shouting distance of this marker); Cambria Powers the Trains (within shouting distance of this marker); Accidental Oil Well (approx. 4 miles away); Cambria (approx. 4˝ miles away); Site of Field City (approx. 4.6 miles away); Salt Creek Overlook (approx. 4.9 miles away); The Jenney Stockade (approx. 4.9 miles away); Camp Jenney (approx. 4.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newcastle.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 1, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 26, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 397 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 26, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.