Freedom

1907

* * * * *

Emmett Dalton had become known as one of the best prisoners at Lansing penitentiary. He had gained the trust of all officers, and had many supportive friends outside. But it was trouble with the old wound in his arm that allowed him his first taste of freedom.



Emmett’s mother and friends may have influenced some minds, but I believe Emmett’s own conduct was the main reason for most of the support shown to him. For instance, Chalk Beeson, who had been a lawman in Dodge City and was a member of the Kansas Legislature, said that much of his admiration for Dalton was due to his “gameness”. Around February 1907 Emmett also became a prison trusty. As a shipping clerk he was allowed to go the train depot and town in Lansing without a guard. Meanwhile, the wound he had received in his right arm at Coffeyville had started to give him a lot trouble and pain. It was getting worse all the time and by June he was in the prison hospital.


Coffeyville Journal, June 7, 1907: County Attorney Charlton, accompanied by Mrs. Charlton, spent Sunday at Lansing visiting Chaplain and Mrs. J. D. McBrian at the state penitentiary. Mr. Charlton visited Emmett Dalton while there and the Independence Star tells the story as follows:

Mr. Charlton also saw and talked to Emmet Dalton. He was the prosecuting attorney when Emmett was sent up from this county. He was a boy then, but is now a man of 34. He greets his visitors frankly and heartily and still cherishes the belief that he will regain his liberty at no far distant day. Mr. Charlton says he always did like Emmett and seems to think that if released he would always after be a good citizen. Dalton is now in the hospital where he is suffering greatly from the wound in one arm received when he rode back to rescue his brother Grat who had fallen in the fatal alley. The doctors say the arm will have to be split and the bone scraped to prevent decay and blood poisoning.

On June 18, 1907, E. U. Mowry (Mrs. E. U. Mowry from Cherryvale, Kansas. I do not know what her connection was to Emmett) wrote a letter to Governer Hoch asking him to grant parole to Emmett: “…I feel I must write to you in regard to Emmett Dalton. His arm that was shot at Coffeyville is giving him a great deal of trouble again, and needs another operation. …Emmett looked sick and feverish, and is unable to raise his hand to his mouth. …what I am asking is that you please parole Emmett, so that he may go to some good hospital and have this given proper treatment. Imagine the torture he has endured with this arm. I know his worst enemy would not wish him to lose his arm, maybe his life. He is not one to complain and has taken his punishment like a man, but time has come, it seems to me, to be merciful…”

On June 20, 1907, Emmett wrote to Mr. T. H. Hoffman a letter which included the following: “…Have been in Hosp. every day since I saw you but my arm is now about healed over again. It will never be cured till operated on which cannot happen here. The Gov. has promised to look into this for me and I am to have a talk with him about it next Sat. or Sunday. I am compelled to cut this short as it is rather painful to write and the Dr. has forbidden my using it…”

Governor Hoch granted Emmett four months’ parole, starting on July 6.

Emmett Dalton-mugshots 1907

Kansas City Star, July 6, 1907: LEAVENWORTH, Kas., July 6. - The face of Emmet Dalton wore a constant smile showing his happiness this morning as he was “dressing out” for departure on his four months’ provisional parole, granted by Governor Hoch yesterday. He leaves at 3 o’clock this afternoon over the Santa Fe for Topeka.

“I have no special plans,” was Dalton’s reply when asked about his parole. “I will be operated on in Topeka hospital. Mother will meet me in Topeka probably Monday. I know she will come as soon as she can get there. Nothing will be done until she arrives. She has the money for the expenses. It is my plan to spend the parole time in a quiet manner. Governor Hoch and the prison officials will have no cause to regret the confidence placed in me.”

While Dalton was talking Dr. Kanaval was dressing his wounded arm. Dalton stood the probing in a place where it had been lanced without flinching, showing the wonderful nerve of the man. The smile of happiness did not leave him while the dressing was in progress. Under provisional parole Dalton is not to leave Kansas. It is probable that he will remain in hospital most of the time.

Dalton has many friends. Messages are coming to the penitentiary offering to help him. Some persons are inviting him to visit them. The prison officials inform these friends of Dalton that he is not going on a holiday jaunt and that it is for the purpose of receiving attention to effect a permanent cure of the wound on his arm.


Coffeyville Journal, July 12, 1907: Topeka, July 6. - Governor Hoch yesterday evening granted a parole of four months to Emmett Dalton, the ex-bandit now in the Kansas penitentiay. Dalton is suffering from an old wound in his shoulder and it will be necessary for him to undergo an operation to save his arm. He has been under treatment at the prison hospital for some time and Wednesday the parole board issued a recommendation that a parole be issued to him so that he could go to Kansas City in charge of his mother to have surgical treatment. Governor Hoch did not reach Topeka until afternoon. Warden W. Haskell was here with the recommendation and Governor Hoch granted the parole at once.

—…In the fifteen years that have elapsed since the Dalton raid Coffeyville has grown from a village of two thousand people to a city of nearly eighteen thousand. This of course means that the greater part of this population knows of the Dalton raid only by hearsay and that they have but little interest in the matter aside from the usual sentiment in favor of the enforcement of the law and the punishment of the guilty. The whole town therefore can probably not be stirred up over the matter as it used to be whenever the application came up for hearing before the governor. Only the old timers are left to fight the case and there is no disguising the fact that with some of them time has healed over their bitterness toward Emmett Dalton.

The famous convict has during the past year written many letters here, addressing them to prominent citizens and appealing in a straightforward way to them to allow him “Just one more chance for life.” He recites his side of the case in a detailed manner, calling attention to his youthfulness at the time of the raid, saying he was forced into it against his will and that he and Bob could have escaped without a scratch if they had wished to [They just might have, had they carried on along the Eighth street up to Maple and then to the horses, while the others ran up the alley taking the fire from the citizens. (See diagram) ]. Then he says that if he is ever going to be allowed a chance in life it must come before age depreciates his ability to make a living, and that his main desire now is to be allowed to comfort his mother’s few declining years. There are few people who have been thus appealed to but what have been affected more or less by his statements. But there are those here who will fight any move to give Dalton his freedom. One of them, as stated on Saturday, is Thomas G. Ayres, now an attorney, but at the time of the raid one of the bankers. He carries the scar of a bullet wound in his jaw from the raid, and has never ceased to feel the injury.

One of the bankers stated Saturday afternoon that while the people are largely indifferent toward the matter on account of most of them not being here at the time, it is very probable that the banks of the city will take active steps to oppose Dalton’s parole if he renews his application at the end of four months. “We cannot do otherwise,” said the banker, “and we would not be true to ourselves nor to our citizenship if we failed to enter an emphatic protest at this move for his freedom. Fifteen years is not long enough for the satisfaction of justice from any standpoint in the case of any man who has helped kill innocent citizens and rob two banks of thousands of dollars. What protection have we if for fifteen years in prison a man can commit such crimes.”

A Topeka dispatch Saturday night said:

Topeka, July 6. - “Well, the very first man I meet when I arrive in Topeka is a policeman,” said Emmett Dalton, the ex-bandit, when he got off the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe train here tonight. The policeman was Thomas O’Leary, ex-guard at the Kansas penitentiary, and now a detective for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad company. O’Leary and Dalton exchanged greetings and the detective asked about his arm and wished the ex-bandit well.

Emmett Dalton was released from the Kansas penitentiary this morning on a parole of four months to have an operation performed on his right arm. He came to Topeka today and tomorrow will talk with Dr. J. C. McClintock and Dr. W.S. Bowen about the operation for necrosis. It is probable that Dalton will go to the Christ hospital, where the operation will be performed, and there he will stay. The ex-bandit was in a cheerful mood when he arrived.

“Emmett Dalton, Kingfisher, O. T.,” is the way he registered at the Copeland hotel. From Holliday he rode with an old friend,

Copeland hotel 1907

The Copeland Hotel, Topeka, in 1907

Harry E. Richter, ex-lieutenant governor. Richter once ran a store in Pawhuska, O. T., and the Dalton boys made it their headquarters when Bob and Gratton Dalton were deputy United States marshals and before they became “bad men.” On the train Richter and Dalton had a pleasant time telling stories of the early days when Dalton was a little boy. Dalton went to the Copeland hotel where he registered, asked for a “common, plain room,” and was assigned to room 233, which will cost him $2.50 a day. He paid in advance until after breakfast Monday morning when he expects to go to Christ hospital for the operation. …Mrs. Dalton will be with her son when the operation is performed.

Saturday night’s Leavenworth Post says:

“Dalton appeared in happy spirits when he left Lansing this afternoon. Dalton has been a trusty at the penitentiary for several months and has acquitted himself admirably. Making him a trusty was the first step toward a pardon. It is almost certain that Dalton will be pardoned by Governor Hoch before he has finished his parole.”

W. H. Haskell, warden of the penitentiary, Saturday afternoon said:

“I hope the newspapers won’t criticize Governor Hoch for granting this parole. Governor Hoch acted on my recommendation and I am willing to take full responsibility for the act. The fact that we are sending him away to be operated upon is no reflection upon our prison physician Dr. Kanavel, but is simply because we do not have the proper antiseptic conditions here for such an operation. We might not be able to take the right kind of care of him. Dalton is not in bad shape physically, but it was necessary to have this operation performed. As far as the parole is concerned, there is not a slightest danger about Dalton’s keeping his part of the bargain. He will be back here on November 1.

“Give Dalton a show while he is in Topeka. He is a man whom I believe you can trust and we are trusting him in the parole.”

Gov. Hoch’s side of it.

“I paroled him temporarily for the sake of humanity,” said Governor Hoch Saturday. “Dalton is a strapping young fellow and it would be almost criminal to allow him to lose his arm for want of proper medical attention. I have released him for four months at the solicitation of the prison officials who know him best. They have no fear of the result.”

Sunday’s Topeka Capital said: Dalton’s arm is almost useless. He can use the fingers and a part of the hand but must move his arm with his left hand. It was quite a task for him to write his name on the hotel register because of this disability. During his stay in Topeka he will have the wound opened and the shoulder blade scraped. Physicians say that is the only thing that will save the arm.

“I don’t think it will be a severe operation,” said Dalton, “at least no more severe than the pains I have endured from it for the last eighteen months. It has bothered me night and day and something must be done at once.”

In spite of his fifteen years confinement, Dalton is healthy looking and appears very much as any man of his age would. He is perhaps six feet tall and rather slender. He lacks the prison pallor, probably because of the fact that he has ben allowed considerable liberty recently. The penitentiary officials have all confidence in him and he has been permitted to go outside the prison walls on many errands.

Last night he wore a black checked suit, a soft striped shirt and a black slouch hat. He had nothing of the prison trade mark about him. But there is something in his eyes and the manner in which he pulls the brim of his hat down over them that marks him an unusual man. He speaks in a very low tone, so low that it is often difficult to make out his words.

“Boys, I mustn’t talk. I’m only on parole, you know.”

These were the first words spoken by Emmett Dalton, the famous “death” prisoner, when he stepped off the Santa Fe train in Topeka last night. He was accompanied by former Lieutenant Governor Harry Richter, who happened to meet him at Holliday. Otherwise Dalton was alone. There were no guards. He is a free man temporarily.

Harry Richter knew all the Dalton boys when he was a trader in the Indian Territory. Bob and Grat were deputy United States Marshals and made their headquarters at Richter’s store.

“That was some time before the Coffeyville trouble,” he said last night. “Emmett used to come to the store with his brothers frequently. He was a fine boy and I believe he would never gotten into trouble if it had not been for his older brothers. He was a boy and they were grown men. He admired them and was an easy victim when they planned the raid on the Coffeyville banks. I hope the people of Topeka will treat him right for he has the making of a man in him..”

“Now, boys, don’t try to make him talk’” said Richter. “He is out on parole and knows he ought not to talk. His wound hurts him, so don’t bother him.”


Topeka State Journal, July 10, 1907: “Good-bye, boys, if I don’t see you again in this world, I will in the next,” were the last words of ex-Bandit Emmett Dalton as he succumbed to the ether administered previous to an operation performed at Bethesda by Dr. John Outland, who is attempting to save the right arm which was shattered by a Winchester ball during the raid on the Coffeyville bank in October 1892. …

It was the intention of Dalton to have the operation performed in Kansas City but he changed his mind and came to Topeka Saturday and Monday entered Bethesda hospital to prepare for the operation which took place this morning. He did not dread it as most patients would but was anxious to get it over with.

Bethesda Hospital, Inset: Dr. Outland

Bethesda Hospital, inset: Dr. J H Outland


He walked into the operating room at a quarter of 9 this morning and after joking with the attending physicians climbed up on the operating table and prepared for the ether. There was not a bobble and a few moments latter he drifted into the unknown world and for an hour and ten minutes Dr. Outland alternately chiseled, scraped and cut in his attempt to remove the diseased portion of the bone.

There is but little doubt but the operation will prove a success is the opinion of Dr. Outland and Doctors Ernest and Powell who assisted in the operation, though it is barely possible that another slight operation may be necessary later on to remove small portions of diseased bone that have been overlooked.

Two incisions were made in the arm between the elbow and shoulder and several pus cavities and particles of necrosed bone removed. Neither of the joints at the elbow or shoulder were affected and it is more than likely that Dalton will not only recover the use of his arm, but his fingers as well and in time the arm will be as strong as before it was injured.

The mark of the rifle bullet could be plainly seen and the wonder is that the present trouble has been averted as long as it has. About half of the bone was chiseled away for a space of three inches and this cavity will have to be filled with a new growth of bone before the arm will be of use.

Dalton had dreaded the operation more from the fact that the surgeons insisted on administering an anesthetic than from the operation itself, but submitted when told that the operation would be a long one and an anesthetic necessary. He was cool and collected and asked Dr. Outland to keep him under the influence of the anesthetic as long as necessary to make a good job of the operation. “Don’t hurry the affair,” he said, “for I can wait and want a thorough job made of it.”

It was expected that Mrs. Dalton of Kingfisher, Okla., mother of the patient, would arrive in time for the operation but she was delayed and Dalton took a philosophical view of the matter and insisted on the operation taking place this morning as it had been arranged. He readily recovered from the effects of the anesthetic, though, as he expressed it, his tongue was thick for a while, though he was not sick, as is often the case.


The Duluth News Tribune, July 15, 1907: …Dalton’s mother, Mrs. Lucy Dalton of Kingfisher, Okla., has been with him practically all the time since he came to Topeka, and until he entered the hospital the pair put up at one of the leading hotels. Few people recognized the former desperado in the handsome, quiet, well-mannered Emmet Dalton of today.

During his long confinement at Lansing Dalton has read much and he is exeedingly well posted regarding current affairs. He talks well, carries himself modestly and with a native dignity that goes far toward disconcerting the curious loungers about the hotel lobbies.


Coffeyville Journal, July 19, 1907: Topeka, July 15. - Mrs. Angeline Dalton, mother of Emmett Dalton, arrived in this city Saturday morning from Kingfisher, Ok., and will remain at the bedside of her son, who is recovering from an operation at Bethesda hospital, until he is able to be up and about unless called home to the bedside of a grandson, who makes his home with her and has been ailing for some time.

Mrs. Dalton is a motherly woman, well past sixty tears of age, well educated and refined and a soft, low voice that bespeaks the sorrows of her life. It has been through her devotion to her son that he secured the parole which has given him a chance to save his injured arm and may perhaps result in a permanent parole in time.

“Oh, it seems so good,” she said, “to be with my boy once more and that outside of the prison walls and oh, how I long to take him home with me, for he has always been my baby though he was not my youngest child. I remember him best when a boy before all this trouble came to us and the time he has been away seems a dark blank.

“When I saw him last at Lansing and I looked back at him as I was leaving the prison I thought to myself that perhaps next time I would see him that it would be somewhere else, and it seems that an always kind providence has willed that my desire should come true. It seems to me that he has been sufficiently punished, but I suppose that all mothers would feel that way toward their boy.

“He has always been the pride of my heart and it was he who always looked after me when he was at home. Others might for a moment forget their mother, but it was never so with Emmett, for when I was left alone he would come and stay with me for fear that I should be lonesome. Every one has been kind to us and when the news reached our town that Emmett had been released for this operation it seemed that every one knew it immediately and rushed over to tell me the good news.

“I want to stay here with my boy for this is the first time I have seen him in nearly fifteen years when I could feel we were both free to do and say what we pleased, and it is such a good feeling. I may be called home at any time on account of illness there, but I will come back to my boy,” she continued as she stroked his forehead and smoothed his hair affectionately.

“I never will be able to express my thanks to the friends who have been so good to me and borne with me so kindly, for I feel that I must sometimes bear them. I have made no plans for the future, but I will stay with Emmett until his arm is well and then perhaps something will happen that will make me the happiest woman in the world.”

Emmett Dalton is able to sit propped up in his bed and his arm is not paining him as intensely as it has since the operation and he is hopeful that he will be permitted to walk about the hospital by the last of the week. As he sat by the side of the bed listening to his mother talk he would deprecate her remarks as to his kindness to her and now and then a tear would find its way to the corner of his eye as she told of his childish pranks.

When asked about the operation Mr. Dalton said: “I feel cut up some but mighty good when I think that I am through with the operation and that my arm is in as good shape as the doctors seem to think that it is, I am convinced that had the operation been postponed a few months longer that I would have lost my arm and now I am hopeful that I will be about again within a few weeks and that I will eventually regain the use of my arm.

“I am in favor of this later day surgery, for after I had taken a few breaths of the ether it was all off with me and I seemed leave the earth for a journey through space, and as I remember the trip it was a long one and through a country filled with strange sights. They say that I said some things that I would not repeat in the presence of my nurse, but I was having troubles that would have made a deacon swear about that time.

“That is all so new to me that I am not able to accommodate myself to the surroundings and I am not used to women nurses and there must be a hundred of them about this institution, and they are all bosses as far as I am concerned. They brought me in my dinner today and told me to eat it. I told the little girl that I was not hungry, but she said that I had better eat something, but I didn’t feel hungry and told her so. She came back a few minutes later and told me to eat my dinner as it was necessary for me to do so, and it wasn’t so much what she said as the way she said it that convinced me that I was in the wrong, and I ate as she directed.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at any moment for one of the nurses to come in and tell me jump out of that window, and while I don’t have any idea how far it is to the ground I would obey if it broke my back. I took a look at the incisions the doctors made in my arm, this morning and I am not surprised at the pain I have suffered since I came from under the influence of the anesthetic.

“I find that I can use my fingers and thumb a little and I think in time I will be alright again so I can take up my work where I left off when I first went to the hospital. I have had a number of letters from friends from various parts of the state and Chalk Beeson of Dodge City, wrote that he would come down to Topeka within next few days to visit me.

“When a fellow is in the shape that I am it does him lots of good to receive letters from such men as Beeson, and one realizes that things might be worse even though they seem as bad as they can. I knew mother would be here today and every time I heard the door bell ring I knew it was she.

“She has been so faithful to me in my troubles, and I want to see her now that I am all fixed up and tell her how nicely I have been treated by every one for it will make her feel so good. I was out in the country Monday with Dr. Outland in his auto-mobile, out among the fields of ripening grain and growing vegetables and through the deep woods and the feeling of freedom which came over me was such as I never remember of experiencing. It brought back memories of my boyhood days when I attended a country school and a longing for the freedom which was then mine. But who knows but what there is something yet in life for me, and at any rate there is something comforting in hope and I guess that we all hope even though we sometimes feel that it is in vain.”

If the nurses made an impression on Emmett, it seems he made an impression at least on one of them. Florence Peterson dressed his arm daily after the operation while he sat on an office chair. Miss Peterson later got and kept this chair. It is still in the family (The Dalton Chair).

Signed photo of Emmett Dalton

Emmett later gave this photograph to J. E. House of the Daily Capital who had covered his surgery and convalescence, and also had testified favorably in his petition for a commutation of sentence.



Coffeyville Journal, Aug. 16, 1907: The following article in opposition to the pardoning of Emmett Dalton is taken from the Burlington Republican:

It seems to be the general impression that Governor Hoch will give Emmett Dalton a complete pardon when his parole expires, but the Republican trusts that such an impression is unfounded and that Governor Hoch will not be guilty of granting such an uncalled for pardon. …he (Emmett) knew that in all probability they would shoot to kill some of the innocent citizens of that town. He was old enough to know the awfulness of their crime and should be made to pay the penalty. He is not a martyr even though he did try to rescue his wounded brother. He was not enough intrested in saving his brother to drop the bag containing the $20,000 he and his brother had stolen from the bank

One of the victims on that raid was Lucius Baldwin of this place, a son of Mrs. Baldwin Loy. Lucius was 23 years old at the time, was a fine young man in every way and the principal support of his widowed mother. …

Ever since his incarceration Dalton’s friends (and every desperado has friends) have been at work to obtain his release and they have worked on every possible influence. It is worthy of comment that Dalton went from the penitentiary to the Copeland hotel immediately upon his release on parole indicating that possibly he was more interested in seeing the politicians than in having his arm treated.

It is also worthy of comment that Dalton was to go to hospital the following Monday and had to stay somewhere until then!

Kansas City Star, Aug. 19, 1907: COFFEYVILLE, Kas., Aug. 19. - The bankers of this city will formally oppose the granting of any executive clemency to Emmett Dalton, …There are four banks here now, and all of them have joined in a letter that will be sent to every banking institution in Kansas and Kansas City asking other bankers to protest to Governor Hoch against any favors being shown to young Dalton.

…The letter being sent out is bitter in its denunciation of Dalton and the crimes which were committed by the band to which he belonged. It is pointed out that in the raid which resulted in the death of all the Daltons except Emmett, four men of Coffeyville were killed and four were wounded. A mawkish sentiment is blamed for the efforts being made to secure the pardon of the ex-bandit.

The letter is signed by the Condon National bank, the First National bank, the State bank and the People’s State Saving bank.


The Washington Post, Aug. 25, 1907: Topeka, Kans., Aug. 24. - Emmet Dalton, a once notorious bandit, who is out of the state penitentiary on parole, is to be night clerk in a Topeka hotel. Dalton was released from the Lansing prison on July 6 to undergo a surgical operation. His parole will end on November 6.

Dalton’s conduct has been exemplary and the parole may be extended to a pardon.


Kansas City Star, Aug. 27, 1907: Governor Hoch says that those persons who are remonstrating against a pardon for Emmet Dalton are illogical. Worse than that, it is feared that they have no conservatories in their souls.


Coffeyville Journal, Aug. 30, 1907: Dalton comment.

Kansas City Times: Coffeyville opposes a pardon for Emmett Dalton; yet who ever heard of Coffeyville before that Dalton raid?

Times: Friends of Emmett Dalton will regret to note that he has become a night clerk of a Topeka hotel. Inasmuch as he is barely out of prison on parole, he ought to keep as far away from temptation as possible.


Coffeyville Journal, Sept. 13, 1907: “I don’t think any further action will be taken by the local banks against the Dalton pardon,” said C. T. Carpenter of the Condon National bank. “The governor has already shown his one-sided prejudice by the way he answered our letter. He has also shown the value he holds the opinions of others.” …

“It is an outrage,” said Mr. King of the State bank. “The bankers have done all they can to oppose it. Public morals have become so lenient now that almost any criminal can escape after a few years of imprisonment. Robberies of this kind are liable to occur at any time and the banks should be protected from such men as he.” …


Belleville News-Democrat, Sept. 18, 1907: … All the bankers of Kansas were asked to protest against Dalton’s pardon. Only five have written protests, while a hundred letters ask for his pardon.


Coffeyville Journal, Oct. 11, 1907: Emmett Dalton’s arm is somewhat better and has improved considerably since he gave up his work as night clerk at the Copeland hotel, but it is still far from well. He has not recovered its use and it is still likely that a second operation will be necessary. His parole does not expire until November 6, so that there is still over a month for the arm to get entirely well.

Dalton regretted very much that he was compelled to give up his work at the Copeland as he enjoyed the experience of being able to do something for himself. James Chappelle, proprietor of the hotel, also was loth to let him go.

“I have never, said Mr. Chappelle, had a man in my employ who showed such a capacity to master details. He was careful and absolutely trustworthy. He was placed in entire charge of the hotel at night and he met every possible requirement. I am so well satisfied with his work that I would jump at a chance of re-employing him if I were given the opportunity. I am satisfied that Dalton is a man to be trusted and will make a first-class citizen.”


Los Angeles Herald, Oct. 12, 1907: KANSAS LAWRENCE - Emmett Dalton, the paroled convict, spent a day here and witnessed the first football game he had ever seen. He said it was just fifteen years ago that the famous raid was made on Coffeyville. “I will see a battle, but of a different kind,” he said before leaving for the game, “than I saw fifteen years ago.” He was delighted with the game. He came from Topeka on a motor car.

Most likely he was taken there by Dr. Outland who was a prominent sports figure in his own right—two time College football All America, offense and defense, and member of the College Football Hall of Fame—founder of the Kansas Relays—football coach at Kansas University and two other schools—benefactor of the Outland Trophy given to the year's best lineman in college football.


Kansas City Star, Oct. 31, 1907: It is doubtful if public sentiment in Kansas demands the return of Emmet Dalton to the state penitentiary. The ex-bandit has been at liberty for five months and his conduct has been exemplary and decent to a degree that he has enlisted the sympathy of the people. To compel him to return to the degradation of prison life after a realization of such an extended period of freedom without an additional charge of misconduct on his part, would have the appearance of unwarranted persecution. It would have been more merciful to have denied him a parole at all. Reformation of the law-breakers is really more to be desired than their punishment, and it would certainly contribute nothing to the young man’s moral uplift to subject him again to prison stripes and the associations of prison life. Isn’t it possible that Kansas could extend leniency to Dalton,the convict, without in any way offering an extenuation for the crime of Dalton the bandit?


In his book Beyond the Law Emmett wrote: “The Governor’s parole clerk, in making out my papers, had made a mistake and dated the expiration November 1, instead of 6, which would have been the four months I asked for.The Governor’s son Homer, who was his secretary, ’phoned me that my parole expired the next day and the Governor was out of town and not expected back for three or four days, and there was nothing to do but go back to prison.”

The Oklahoman, Nov. 1, 1907: TOPEKA, Kan. Oct. 31. - Emmett Dalton, the noted ex-bandit who has for four months been out on parole, having his injured arm treated in a Topeka hospital, went back to Lansing this afternoon, unaccompanied. His parole expires November 1 and Governor Hoch, who it was thought would pardon Dalton, has not returned from Washington. It is generally believed that Dalton will be pardoned as soon as Governor Hoch returns.


Kansas City Star, Nov. 1, 1907: Emmett Dalton reported to the officials of the Kansas penitentiary early this morning. His parole does not expire until to-night, and in the absence of W. H. Haskell, the warden, it was suggested to Dalton that he defer “dressing in” until the warden’s return. In the meantime Dalton’s friends have hope that Governor Hoch will be heard from and a pardon granted.

“There is nothing new for me to say about prison life,” said Dalton this morning. “I’ll take whatever is in store for me without complaint. Everybody has treated me kindly. The treatment accorded me while at liberty convinces me that the public is ready to help any man if he shows he deserves it.”

If the governor is not heard from Dalton will take up his duties as a prison trusty tomorrow. He will be a runner, a place he had four months previous to his parole. Dalton’s arm is in such condition that he cannot work at cutting or tailoring, a trade he learned while in prison.

Dalton has the good will of the prison officials. All would be glad to see him pardoned.


The date of Emmett's return to prison in the following article is incorrect. Also, it looks like Emmett returned to Kansas City after his arrival at Lansing to await for possible news of Governor Hoch. He would not have gone back to Lansing late that night, as we shall see.

(Grand Forks) Evening Times, Nov. 4, 1907: Kansas City, Nov. 4. - A big, well-built man wearing a plain black suit of clothes and a black slouch hat, sat in the office of the Blossom house last night. His right arm was hanging limp by his side

“Yes, I'm Emmet Dalton,” he said smiling in response to a question. “I've been out of the penitentiary for four months trying to make good.”

He looked at his questioner straight out of his gray eyes.

“Now,” he said, “I'm going back to Lansing again. My parole expires tomorrow and Governor Hoch is away from Topeka. Nothing concerning my case has been heard from him so I have to go back.

“Yes, I had hoped that the Governor could see his way clear to give me an extension of my parole, or perhaps a pardon. I'd like to have it more on my mother's account than my own. She lives at Kingfisher, Okla. She's 80 years old but she hasn't missed a day writing me a letter since I've been in Topeka. She tells me of the plans she's been making to receive me when I get my pardon. I've told her not to build her hopes too high but she insists on thinking that I'm going to be allowed to go down to her a free man soon.”

Dalton's eyes filled with tears as he told of his mother's faith in him and her belief that the governor of Kansas would grant him a pardon.

“I'm under eternal obligations to the governor, now,” he continued. “ He's given me four months of life and you don't know what that means to a man who has spent much of his life behind the bars. I went there a boy of 19 and I lived there fifteen years — long enough, almost, to lose faith in humanity. This last four months has been a wonderful revelation to me. I've received the very best of treatment at everyone's hands. I left the penitentiary pretty much of a sceptic. I'm going back believing that humanity is sympathetic and that almost every man is willing to help a fellow in trouble.

Emmett seems to be laying it pretty thick here! At this time Adeline Dalton was 72 years old. Emmett himself was 21 at the time of entering the prison, and had been incarcerated some months over 14 years when released on parole.

“Yes, dozens of my friends say that governor Hoch will grant me a pardon. I saw him just before he left Topeka for the east several days ago. I then thought and so did the governor, that my leave of absence extended until November 6. I found only a day or so ago that my time was up November 4.

“What am I going to do if I get out? Well, I can't say. If the governor pardons me I'm going to consult him as to my future plans. He's been a good friend of mine. He's already given me some mighty good advice and I know he wants to help me.

“I haven't a word to say about my punishment. I never fired a shot during the Coffeyville bank robbery, but I was in the gang. I deserved to be punished, for technically I was guilty of murder. But I believe I've been punished sufficiently. I know that the same law that punished me has protected my people. If I'm given a chance to live a free man I know I can show that I've learned to be a decent citizen. I want the opportunity.”

“You are going to get it, too, young man,”a gray haired man said, as he gave Dalton a friendly clap on the shoulder. It was “Chalk” Beeson of Dodge City, who is one of the men who has been working hard to secure an absolute pardon for him. “The governor is going to give you a chance to show the world what's in you.”

“I've known Emmet Dalton almost ever since he went to the penitentiary,” Mr. Beeson said later. “ He lived for a time at Dodge before he got into trouble. He was only a young boy who got into bad company. I belive he is a decent chap. I always have believed it ever since I saw him. I hope the governor grants him a pardon. I've talked with dozens of men who have watched him daily since he has been working in Topeka. I've yet to hear the first one say that he shouldn't be pardoned.”

Dalton left last night on the Kansas City - Leavenworth interurban line for Lansing.

“It'll be a little late when I arrive up there tonight, but I guess Warden Haskell will let me break in all right,” he said with a laugh. “But it's different breaking out.”

According to Emmett:“About four o’clock in the afternoon I received two ’phone calls; one from Kansas City Star, saying that they had located the Governor in Council Bluffs, Iowa, another from the Governor’s son that he had also located the Governor and that he had continued my parole until the sixth and for me return to Topeka at once - which I was more than glad to do.

“On the morning of November 2, Governor Hoch returned and that afternoon about three-thirty ’phoned me to come to his office.”

Kansas City Star, Nov. 3, 1907: TOPEKA, Nov. 2. - Emmett Dalton, the fifteen years a prisoner in the Kansas state penitentiary, is free. Governor Hoch commuted his sentence to-night to a term expiring at the moment his name was affixed to the papers. In granting the commutation, Governor Hoch said that it had been his intention to grant Dalton an unconditional pardon, but there had been no publication of the case, as required by law, and therefore he could not carry out that desire. “However,” continued the governor, “this commutation gives Emmett his absolute freedom.”

Governor Hoch returned from Council Bluffs, Ia., to-day at noon. It will be remembered that Dalton of his own accord returned to the penitentiary yesterday prepared to return to prison life. He had supposed, until he examined the papers in the governor’s office last Thursday, that his parole did not end until November 6. The governor was under the same impression, so at 5:30 o’clock last night the governor extended the parole until November 6. Dalton came back to Topeka, arriving this morning.

The governor’s action in extending the parole was taken by many to mean that the pardon would be granted at the end of the parole. Few there were who thought it was to come this afternoon. Late this afternoon, however, Governor Hoch sent for Dalton. The young man went directly to the executive office. He was accompanied by his brother, L. B. Dalton, a farmer near Kingfisher, Ok. In the room were Mrs. Hoch, wife of the governor, Mr. and Mrs. Homer Hoch and two newspapermen.

Emmett was perceptibly nervous. Everything in his surroundings indicated that the constant wish of fifteen years was about to be realized and yet, as he said afterward, he felt that he did not dare to hope too strong for fear of some disappointment in the end. The governor came out of his private office and with outstretched hand advanced to meet Emmett. He was introduced to the older brother. Then he turned again to Emmett.

“Emmett,” he said, “I have given a great deal of thought to your case. I have watched you and have talked to a great many people regarding your conduct since you have been at liberty. You have qualities of a good man. But you realize, of course, the position I am in. I have to stand between mercy on one hand and good government on the other.”

The governor’s voice trembled and he could not conceal his emotion.

“But,” continued the governor, “I do not believe that good government will suffer because of the fact that you are a free man.”

Until that time Dalton’s face had not betrayed that he had heard the governor’s words. But he seemed to realize what was coming and what it meant to him. His face twitched and he was restless, but he looked his benefactor square in the eye. His brother buried his face in his hands. The two women present moved closer together and covered their faces.

“I believe Emmett,” continued the governor, “that you will make a good citizen and with this belief -” here the governor took from his secretary the parchment bearing the state’s seal which means freedom for Dalton and started to hand it to him. At that moment the lights went out and left the room in darkness, but without hesitation the governor continued: “with this belief I extend you this pardon.”

Dalton rose from his chair but said nothing. The governor was the first to break the silence.

“It gives me a great deal of pleasure to do this,” continued the governor, “because I feel that the confidence that I am now placing in you is not misplaced.”

A twilight sun cast just enough light in the room to allow those there to distinguish the two figures standing in the gloom. From the place where were seated Mrs. Hoch and her daughter came suppressed sobs.

“Governor,” said Dalton, his voice was trembling now. If there were tears in his eyes, they could not be seen. “The trouble is that there is no way for me properly to express my gratitude. But I certainly thank you with all my heart and soul. I wish to say this, however, that you nor any one else will ever have reason to regret what you have done to-day. I shall do everything in my power to live a useful life and be a good citizen.”

The governor stood for a moment without speaking. Dalton did the same. Finally Emmett said;“ Governor, I believe I shall ask to be excused. I want to go to the telegraph office and tell mother.”

Dalton will remain in Topeka for a few days until Dr. Outland feels that his arm has sufficiently healed to allow him to travel. He will then go to Kingfisher, the home of his mother and brother.

To a reporter for The Star Dalton said: “I am deeply grateful to Governor Hoch for what he has done for me and to the friends who have stood by me through my trouble. I recognize the fact that all the assistance I have received has been given under the implied agreement that I will make good in the future and I shall certainly try to carry out my part of the agreement.”

— Leavenworth, Kas., Nov. 2. - “Tell them all I am free,” was a message on the long distance telephone by Emmett Dalton to the Kansas penitentiary conveying the first information to the officers and prisoners that he was pardoned. It was received by a runner who answers the telephone at night and his congratulations to Dalton were sent in the form of a cheer that was heard in the cell houses. None of the officials was in the main offices and Dalton’s former comrade was instructed to send word to certain officials at their homes and convey the news around.

— Governor Hoch, after granting commutation which is equivalent to a pardon, gave out this statement:

I have given a great deal of thought and much patient study to the case of Emmett Dalton and I do not believe any unprejudiced person can study the case as I have studied it without reaching the conclusion that this young man has in him the elements of good citizenship. Every officer of the institution in which he has been confined for the last fifteen years with whom I have conversed share this opinion and expressed it in the strongest possible language. He has made a model prisoner and has given every evidence that he has done so from considerations of character and manhood and not for policy’s sake. He has been a trusty and has never betrayed the trust. …

Believing that Emmett Dalton’s youthfulness is an extenuation of his great offense, and believing that he has thoroughly repented in every possible way and believing that a government without mercy is not strong, but weak, and believing that Emmett Dalton will make a good citizen and live a good, clean, useful life, I have concluded to give him the opportunity.

Governor Edward H. Hoch

Governor Edward H. Hoch






Leave a message in the Guestbook.


Valid CSS!

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Send Mail

Email >



Last modified: 09 October 2014