I have six books that i rely on for most of my material. Of the six only four had more than breif mention of their names. and the four gave only short shift to them, and all told virtually the same story. They are listed as a rough violent gang who roamed from the Missouri Ozarks to the silver mines of New Mexico. They were spawned into a family of five-teen children, ten boys and five girls. Only five of the boys seem to have any recorded history, thankfully for society.
the father Lewis Dalton was musician in the Mexican War, and became somewhat a drifter afterwards. He operated a saloon for a while until his wife Adeline forced him to quit and seek more respectable work. He never really did anything better later except he seemed to have a knack for betting on slow horses.
Adeline Dalton was reputed to be a distant relative to the Youngers, whom she apparently despised because of their outlaw ways. she has been described as a small, waspish woman who seldom smiled, but then she had little to smile about. It is claimed that she and her husband finally stooped speaking to each other and scratching a living was a terribly difficult task for her.
Of this massive family only five are of interest to us here. Grat, the oldest born in 1861, was quick with his fist and slow on the count. Bob was the real leader of the gang, loved women and money and unluckly with both. Emmett the youngest and the only one to live to a old age. Frank was the only one who died a honorable death. And last was Bill who had the ambition to be Governor of California.
In 1882 the brothers rode into the Indian Territory (Oklahoma). There the Dalton’s fought and raced horses. as their reputations spread as tough men they took jobs as Cherokee Policemen.
frank soon drew the attention of the famious hanging judge Isaac Parker who appointed his as a United States deputy marshal. work was honorable and under paid. they recieved two dollars for every prisoner delivered and six cents a mile for travel. The work was so dangerous that sixty-five marshals out of two-hundred-twenty-five died in the line of duty.
Frank might have made it deeper in the history books if it had not been for the over-shadowing infulnce of his out-law brothers. As it was Frank was killed while attempting to capture whiskey runners. In a heavy shootout Three bootleggers were killed but so was Frank. Frank was the only one of the Dalton boys to die with his boots on honorably.
Grat and Bob remained policemen mostly shaking down every one they could with the threat of jail if they did not pay.
Bob became chief of police in the Osage Nation, however while he liked to play around with loose women he did not want his cousin Minnie becoming involved with some one. When the gentleman would not stop seeing her he wound up with a bullet in the neck resisting arrest. While many were suspicious about the incident they held their opinion. When a store keeper accused a Indian youth of theft, with out proof the Dalton’s shot him to pieces. This caused the to read the writing on the wall and resign. Then it was revieled that the Dalton’s had been using their law-enforcement positions to cover horse stealing. they fled into the Ozark hills and formally became a outlaw gang.
Since Kansas and Oklahoma was in effect closed to them they drifted to Silver city, New Mexico. The action was controlled by a though Texas gang and the Dalton’s could not find a crack to slip into. Finally in desperation the held up a gambling establishment and fled back to Oklahoma with only Emmett sustaining a minor wound. The gang then split up for a while.
Bill meanwhile was carving a nich for himself in California. He was married and had two children and had apolitical star rising in the state. Standing for the common man he railed against the Southern Pacific Railroad. When his brothers Bob and Grat showed up at his house he soon was doing more than give speeches against the railroad.
A influx of train robbers had been entering the state and any tough suspicious men were looked at hard. The Dalton’s were tagged as suspicious right away. When a train was robbed by three men and one employee killed, the Dalton’s were immediately indicted the Dalton’s. Bob fled the state while Grat and Bill were taken into custody. In separate trials Grat was found guilty but Bill Innocent. However Bill was hardly released before he was arrested and jailed on a second train robbery charge.
Meanwhile Bob and Emmett recruited Bitter Creek Newcome and Blackface Charlie Bryant and began robbing trains in Oklahoma. The first robbery was successful however in the second Bryant murdered a young depot agent. To make matters worse the sacks they thought held money was filled with old telegrams and canceled checks.
In a gun battle near Twin Mounds, Oklahoma they killed a lawman. Shortly after Blackface Charlie became ill and checked into a hotel in Hennessy and called for a Doctor. soon he was called upon by Marshal Ed Short who placed him under arrest. The town had no jail so Short placed Bryant on a train to transport him. feeling sorry for the ill man he loosened his handcuffs. Bryant produced a pistol and in the ensuing firefight both were killed.
Meanwhile the Dalton’s were planning the biggest haul so far. they would assault the MK&T railroad carring cotton money to Texas banks. Bob got together a group of seven men to do the job. The gand took the engineer prisoner and threatened to use dynamite if the express doors were not opened. While they were looting the safe several passengers stepped off the train and made threats. Bill Doolin charged the group with pistol blazing which caused a rapid retreat. The Dalton’s in effect screwed the other when the split was made only giving each $300 apiece. Considering the caliber of the group it is amazing they got away with it.
Grat and Bill rode in about this time, Bill had been acquitted the second time and Grat just escaped. Bob decided this called for a celebration. what better way than to rob another train. On a dark stormy night of June 1, 1892 the boys rode into the town of Red Rock on the Otoe reservation. When the train pulled in the passenger coach was darkened and looked specious to the gang. while they were debating what to do the train pulled out. while they were still sitting there wondering if they had did right a second train appeared right next to them. the first was a decoy, they not only took the money but stole ladies finery from the merchant boxes and stole the crews lunches also.
Now hundreds of lawmen were on the hunt for the gang in the Indian territory, but all in vain.On July 15 they were back to work. In Adair, Oklahoma, around 9 0clock at night they situated themselves on the benches outside the station after robbing the agent of all his cash. Bitter creek Newcome held the loungers at the end of the station platform while they waited for the train. With the arrival of the train the engineer was taken prisoner and the express car approached, when suddenly rifle fire ripped from a nearby coal shed. United States Deputy M Sid Johnson, Captain J. J. Kenney of the railroad police and Captain Charles Le force of the Cherokee Police banged away. the fight was brief Johnson took a serious wound and the other two lesser wounds. the Dalton’s escaped unharmed. toe doctors who watches the fight from a drugstore door were wounded one later died.
They started looking for a new way to get money without working for it.he Dalton’s escaped several more close brushes with the law and decided robbing trains was getting too risky.l The returns from robbing trains were not worth the risk anymore, so they started casting about for another venture to gain rapid wealth.
The gang decided to turn to robbing banks. their first two choices were the bank in van Buren, Arkansas, or the two in their home Town of Coffeyville, Kansas. the idea of Coffeyville was tempting because it had two banks conveniently located right across the street from each other. Also they thought they would make history by being the first to rob two banks at the same time, it had never been done before.
the gang was divided over the enterprise though. As leader Bob was in favor, Grat agreed, but he was never too bright to start with. Emmett was eager, but he was young and impressionable, and he wanted to out do his hero Jessie James. Bill Dalton thought they were out of their minds and refused to participate, feeling they should continue to do what they understood best. Bill Doolin agreed with Bill Dalton and said he would not be party to suicide. Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell decided to go along with Bob.
Coffeyville was a town with dirt streets and boasted 4,000 citizens and had the look of a frontier settlement. Yet it boasted doctors, lawyers and many business. and the First National and Condon banks were the pride of the surrounding countryside. and they were located almost across the street from each other
On the morning of October 5 following a drawing schted in the dirt by Bob the gang rode into town bent on the business at hand. The Dalton’s rode into town wearing false whiskers and Broadwell and Powers wore bandannas. The Dalton’s also dressed n new clothes because they wanted to be remembered as being sharp loking for their grand deed.
Bob and Emmett would take the First National as it was the largest and best gaurded. grat, Boadwell and Powers were assigned the Condon. Emmett wanted to change places with Grat but Bob wanted him with him as he felt theirs was the toughest nut to crack.
They rode into town right at opening time at 10:oo O’clock. Despite the ridiculous whiskers no one recognised the Dalton’s. Only after they dismounted and started to trot toward the banks did some yell there go the Dalton’s.
Coffeyville had been expecting the Dalton’s coming, having been warned by A well known peace officer named Chris Madsen had warned community officials. In fact the Daltons had ridden into a armed camp. Local hardware stores began handing out rifles and shotguns.
Bob and Emmett ran into the First National and ordered everyone to raise their hands. sacks were thrown on the floor and the teller ordered to fill them up. the tellers tried to tell them that the vault could not be opened until later–bob said the time is now and it was. shooting had already started outside as men took up positions all around the banks. After a quick look in the vault to make sure it was empty, the tellers and patrons were shoved out the door ahead of the Dalton’s who were determined to fight their way out of town.
forced back into the bank by heavy gunfire, they rushed out the back door and into the alley. there stood a Charles Baldwin a store clerk with a rifle in his hands , Bob shot him down. As they rushed through the alley into the street they also killed George Cubine and Charles Brown. From down the street Tom Ayres raised himself to a window to see what was going on and Bob glanced a bullet of his head.
But where were the others?he two Dalton’s had made it to the street, they had robbed the biggest bank in town had killed several of its citizens and made it to their horses all they had to do was ride out of town to saftey. But where were the others??
the other outlaws were mired in trouble, Slow witted Grat had been told that the vault wouldn’t open for another ten minutes believed the lie, and decided to wait. Broadwell and Powers had been exchanging fire with the people on the street, and Broadwell had been hit in the shoulder. Finally Grat decided to wait no longer and asked where the back door was, told that there was not one once again he believed them.
Altogether they had gathered about $4,000 in silver dollars. Two tellers were forced to carry two bushels of the heavy coins to the horses, spooked by all the gunfire they dropped the coins and fled. Grat tried to race to his horse with about $1,000 in greenbacks, a paltry sum to die for.
The three dashed for their horses Powers was hit at the onset and fell to the ground. Broadwell wqas hit again but staggered to his horse and raced out of town. After about a mile he fell from his horse dead. He would later be dragged back to town.
Grat was hit at least two times, dropped his money and staggered into the alley still blazing away with his rifle where he killed the town marshal Charlie Connelly. By this time Bob and Emmett rode to the aid of their brother into what is today known as “Death Alley”.
Slowly the firing eased up as people began taking better aim. Bob stepped into the center of the alley to get a better view of what was going on and was shot in the chest by a roof top sniper. He sat heavily down in the dirt. John Kloher, a stable proprietor moved in and shot him in the head. Kloehr could see Grat wandering around in a haze and took careful aim and shot him in the neck breaking his spine.
Emmett could probably have got away with the money he still had but he rode to the aid of his brother Bob before the final shot that killed him. Reaching his badly wounded brother he stretched out his hand but Bob was too weak to pull himself up. then a blast from a double barreled shotgun took Emmett out of the saddle.
the battle was over four outlaws and four citizens lay dead in the streets along with several horses and a number of wounded. The body of Powers was dragged back into town. the body’s of the outlaws were left laying in the street for hours where souvenir hunters stripped them of anything they could and their clothing was torn in to tatters by the pickers. The banks recovered all but $22 of their money. Photographs were taken of the outlaws and sold.
Emmett survived his wounds and received a life term but was released after four-teen and a half years. He married his childhood sweetheart and lived in Hollywood, Ca. dieing at 66 years of age. He was often heard to mumble “Crime doesn’t pay”.
q book was written about the Dalton’s that Emmett allowed his name to be placed on and movies were made of them that shed a more favorable light on the gang than they deserved. they were in fact vicious killers with no regard for human life.
Now for a lttle personal side light. When I first started work in the aluminum co. after my service time, I worked with a old black gentleman named chrispis McCoy, in one of our conversations he told me that his grandmother was a little girl in Coffeyville, when the Dalton’s made their raid. she was taken by her father to see the bodies after the fight. He said she always told him that the Dalton’s were Filthy and smelled to high Heaven. So the question begs who is right the historians who say they wore new clothes or a little girl witness? Our grandson fresh out of boot-camp got a 24 hour pass for Thanksgiving, but to leave base he needed to leave with a fellow Marine, to watch each others back according to him. anyway the young man he brought home with him was a eighteen year old Marine from Coffeyville, Kansas. As I had been reading up on this story I mentioned the Dalton raid. Of course he was well versed in the history. He told us that the hardware store that the weapons were passed out from is still in existence and still looks the same, and is a sourse of town pride.
Anyway thanks for struggling through another marathon length blog.
till next time take care.