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After an attempted train robbery at Alila, Cal., in February 1891, four Dalton brothers were accused of the crime; Bob, Emmett, Grat and Bill. In the following twenty months, the first three went on to gain notoriety as some of the boldest and most feared outlaws in the Southwest.
It was never my intention to include material about the Dalton gang on this site; it was to be about Emmett Dalton the man, rather than the outlaw, even if his life was shaped by having belonged to the gang. Besides, I felt so much has already been written about them. But inevitably I have come across bits of interesting material in the newspapers, which seem to shed light on some of the stories about the gang. Including an intriguing possibility that there had been a “Dalton gang” before the Dalton gang, whose evil deeds were now laid at their door!
Troubles for Bob, Emmett and Grat had started in the Indian Territory. This is what Burrell Cox of Tulsa, a deputy U. S. marshal who knew the Daltons, had to tell about it:
Times Picayune, Aug. 13, 1892: “Grant held a commission under Deputy Marshal Carroll at Fort Smith, and Bob under the Fort Smith court also. He afterward went to the Osage agency as a deputy marshal, and while there got accused of selling whisky. This means the penitentiary if convicted, you know. Emmet was with Bob then, and there was a writ issued against them both, charging the offence. Bob went to Wichita, where he had to answer for it and gave himself up. He was there bound over without evidence, and Alf Houte [or Houts] and Cyrus Reardon went his bond for $1000. You can guess this made the brothers, and especially Bob, pretty blamed mad [Bob and Emmett had come across two fellows selling whiskey to the Indians. While Emmett kept himself some distance away, Bob stayed awhile with the bootleggers and Indians, possibly also having a drink]. It was then, and not till then, that they started out as law breakers. They went out and stole a bunch of thirty horses and drove them to Baxter Springs, where they were sold. A man named Scott bought the horses, and then they stole another bunch. They wanted the money to beat the case at Wichita.
There was fun on hand when the boys rode to Baxter Springs, Kan., with that second lot of nags. The owners of the first bunch were there getting back their horses. Bob and Emmet and a Creek Indian drove their second lot to Baxter bold as you please, and Bob went to see if the way was clear. As he approached the depot he met a young man, who said, “Are you the fellow that lost the horses up in the territory and are up here after them?”
“Bob says, ‘yes,’ and rides back to Emmet and the Creek. ‘They are dead on to us,’ he remarked, riding down towards them, ‘and it's about time we were getting out of here.’
“Clem Rogers, a Cherokee, who lost some of the first bunch of horses and was in town hunting for them, drove down past the three of them and nailed 'em for what they were. Looking up the street, the two brothers and the Creek saw the men of the place rushing into the hardware store after guns. The chase was on. Grabbing the best horses in their string, Bob, Emmet and the Creek lit out... [read about the chase]
“The posse ran onto Grant Dalton during the chase, arrested him and locked him up afterward in the Fort Smith jail. After being there three months he was cleared by the grand jury and released.
“After getting clear away the boys, Bob and Emmet, realized they could not stay in the country and put out for California. Grant also went to California after he was released from jail.”
For a summary and comments on the Alila train robbery in California, please refer to this section on my Home page.
Dallas Morning News, May 11, 1891: The southbound train on the Santa Fe was robbed last night at Wharton, in the Cherokee strip.
...Not a shot was fired during the time, and while the passengers knew what was going on no attempt was made to interfere. ...Deputy Marshal Payne was on the train. ...
The engine and express car were uncoupled from the train and the engineer forced to run them down the track some distance and stop. Then the robbers went through the express car and took what money they could find. ...The robbery was performed quietly and systematically. ...
There seems to be no doubt that the bandits were not the notorious Dalton brothers. They are a desperate set of outlaws.
For future reference, please note that no one got killed in this incident.
Galveston Daily News, May 12, 1891: GUTHRIE, O. T., May 11. - The robbery of the Kansas City and Galveston express on last Saturday night is the all absorbing topic of conversation here. It is now positively known that the leaders of this gang are the famous Dalton brothers for whom rewards are now offered amounting to over $10,000. ...After making this attempt to to rob the Southern Pacific express [the Alila train] they left for the Indian Territory, and on arriving began their depradations. They are known to have killed three men in the territory, and the cattle and horses they have stolen would make a corral full.
If things had so shaped themselves as the robbers had planned on last Saturday, over $100,000 would have been taken from the express company. To-day being the day the Sac and Fox Indians were to receive their money. It was thought $180,000 would be brought down on Saturday night's express train. It so happened, however, that a portion had been received shortly previous, while on another train the same day a large amount came. It was this big game the bold and daring highwaymen hoped to bag. As it was, $500 was obtained, they making good their escape in the heavy timber in the Sac and Fox and Creek nations.
A posse of ten deputies is now in pursuit. ...On one occasion early in the morning while the four deputies were sleeping the two brothers deliberately crept up and viewed the sleepers, who were being guarded by a Creek scout, who was compelled to look down the barrel of a Sharp's rifle until the brothers were ready to depart.
Chillicothe Morning Constitution, May 14, 1891: WICHITA, Kan., May 14. - Fred J. Dodge, chief of the Wells Fargo Express Co.’s detectives in Texas, came up from Wharton, I. T., to investigate a report that Bob Dalton, one of the brothers who held up the Santa Fe train near Wharton Saturday, had been seen here. The man who made the assertion that he had spoken to Bob Dalton here insists that he knows the outlaw well, but no trace of him can be found now. George Whipple, a brother-in-law of Bob Dalton, was arrested at Guthrie and was put in jail here on a charge of obstructing the officers by reason of his warnings to the Daltons.
Chillicothe Morning Constitution, May 19, 1891: SAC AND FOX AGENCY, I. T., May 19. - Tussahoe, an Indian scout, has just arrived with the report that the Dalton boys, “Six Shooter” Jack and the persons concerned in the recent train robbery at Wharton were at Boyon, a deserted ranch headquarters about twelve miles from the agency. He belongs to the posse of Heck Thomas and comes for a larger force to cut off the outlaws’ retreat.
Mountain’s Indian police and volunteers from Captain Hayes’ troop of cavalry left immediately for the scene. As soon as they arrive they will close in on the robbers and make short work of them. ...
These desperadoes are the remnants of the old Belle Star gang reorganized. Most of them are known in the territory as cut throats and desperate men. For several days posses have been close on their track - at one time so close as to capture one of their saddle horses and a large amount of cartridges and it is thought that now they are completely surrounded.
Reno Weekly Gazette, May 28, 1891: SAN FRANCISCO, May 27. - A press telegram from Oklahoma City, dated May 23rd, recited the fact that a United States deputy marshal and a troop of United States cavalry had a fight with the notorious Dalton gang of train robbers and that in the engagement Bob Dalton was killed. The Daltons are wanted in this State for the Pixley and Alila train robberies, in which several people were killed. The news from Oklahoma City was so circumstantial that the California officers accepted the statement as correct, but could not obtain any verification. Yesterday United States Marshal Grimes telegraphed to this city from Guthrie, stating there was no truth in the statement that a fight and capture had been made, and that the statement published had been misleading to the forces now in search for the robbers.
San Antonio Daily Light, June 1, 1891: WICHITA, Kas., June 1. - Frank Vieux, a noted horse thief, was brought up here Saturday from the Sac and Fox country and lodged in jail. In conversation with the authorities last evening Vieux intimated that he could give some valuable information about the Dalton gang of train robbers if it were made worth his while, and it is thought possible he may have been connected with the train robbery near Wharton, I. T.
Morning World-Herald, June 6, 1891: SAC AND FOX AGENCY, I. T., June 5. - [Special] - An Indian hunter brought in word that he came across the Dalton gang, who robbed the Fargo express on the Santa Fe road a month ago. He says the gang is planning a raid upon the agency with the object of robbing the United States commisioner who has the money to pay the Sac and Fox Indians for the lands recently purchased by the government. As soon as the Shawnees, who were charged with the murder of three horse thieves were released they headed a posse to run down the Dalton gang. A lively encounter is anticipated when the two parties meet.
Galveston Daily News, June 7, 1891: FORT SMITH, Ark., June 6. - Cal Smith, the notorious horse thief, was brought in from the Cherokee strip this evening by Deputy United States Marshal Secondyne. Smith had in his possession when arrested two fine horses that were stolen last Monday night ten miles west of Tulsa, I. T. It is believed that Smith belongs to the Dalton gang. He says he saw them a few days ago eighteen miles from Redfork, and that they are peddling whisky right along. Billie Brant, who is wanted in Texas, and Six Shooter Jack, who is charged with the murder of the agent at Wharton station on the Santa Fe, he says are with the Dalton gang.
There are many accounts about the Dalton gang shooting a telegraph operator either at Wharton or Red Rock during their train robberies. Adair was the only train robbery in the Indian Territory where a man was fatally wounded (the fireman was fatally wounded at Alila, California). Mike Tower, a visitor to this site, kindly offered the following, concerning the murder at Wharton: Regarding the Wharton robbery: In early November, C. M. Smith, the night telegraph operator at Wharton station in northern I. T., was murdered by two masked men. According to news reports, the shooting occurred about 12:50 a. m. when Smith and a boy were sitting in the station eating a meal. Two masked men came in and ordered them to throw up their hands. The boy did so, but Smith thinking it a practical joke, made a jocose reply and got a searing projectile through his body. He died within an hour of sending a telegram stating, “I am shot in the stomach. Burglars.” The wire prompted an immediate reaction; however, the first responders found the single witness too frightened to give a clear description of the men, their horses, or direction of escape. Therefore, the culprit’s identity remains a mystery and, even though many writers attempted to pin this felony on the Dalton brothers or members of their gang, as shown shortly, its signature is more reminiscent of Hudgins’ methods and was, some months later investigated as such. For details see: Oklahoma City Times, Friday, November 7, 1889; see also: Purcell Register, April 10, 1891, p. 1; Territorial Topic, November 14, 1889, p. 1 &2; Territorial Topic, May 14, 1891 article entitled “Train Robbery at Wharton.” The November 14th article states: Reward Notice by the A. T. & S. F. Railroad...“the only description we have is they were two men about 5’ 10” tall and medium size. They left their hats outside and came in with white cloth masks over their faces and heads; they had short barreled, white handled, double action revolvers and were apparently badly frightened; think they were new at this kind of business.”
Fresno Daily Republican, June 13, 1891: James Ford has returned from pursuit of the Dalton brothers, the supposed Alila train robbers, says the Tulare County Times. The gentleman was a special deputy under Sheriff Kay, and stayed in the field as long as he considered there was a possibility of arresting the men. Ford says the Daltons are yet in the Indian territory, where there is a large scope of country - at least 100 miles square - over which they can travel, and find friends who will attend to secreting and furnishing them with provisions. Ford says he has certain knowledge that Robert and Emmett Dalton were not engaged in the Wharton, Oklahoma, train robbery, as they were 110 miles east of that place the morning after the robbery occurred. There is a third party traveling with the Daltons, who visits trading posts occasionally for the purpose of securing provisions and ammunition. Emmett had the misfortune, while traveling at night, of riding into a wire fence and so injured one of his legs that he is now lame. Mr. Ford is of the opinion that the two boys will never be broughtout of that country alive. They know every foot of that country and thus have an advantage over their pursuers. They are also well acquainted with the white people inhabiting that section, and find in them men who will do all in their power [illegible word] and protect them.
Sheriff Kay, who chased after Bob and Emmett with James Ford following the Alila robbery, stated to Frank Latta: “...I found that Jim Ford was one of the best trackers and detectives I had ever worked with”(from Dalton Gang Days by Frank F. Latta). Seems to me it was not so easy to always stay on the right track, and, in all likelyhood, wrong persons were taken for the Daltons on other occasions as well.
Fresno Daily Republican, June 17, 1891: FRESNOITES IN VISALIA.
A dozen or more of sporting men and bartenders of this city are spending a season at Visalia as witnesses in the trial of the Daulton boys for the Alila train robbery.
One of the defendants was arrested in this city. He will prove an alibi, as on the night of the robbery he was seen in this city, having drank and gambled in several of the leading resorts.
Daulton is well known to the men who saw him here, and they assert that there can be no doubt about his having been in this city on that night.
Reno Evening Gazette, July 8, 1891: VISALIA (Cal.), July 8. - The jury in the case of Gratton Dalton after twenty-one hours’ deliberation, returned a verdict this morning of guilty. Dalton was concerned in the Alila train robbery last year.
Galveston Daily News, June 29, 1891: KANSAS CITY, Mo., June 28. - A dispatch from the Associated Press correspondent at Guthrie, O. T., says there is no truth in the report that the Dalton gang last night attacked the agency and made away with a large amount of booty.
Fresno Daily Republican, July 25, 1891: Says the Visalia Delta: “Grattan Dalton, who was recently convicted of participating in the Alila train robbery, was in a violent rage yesterday afternoon. During the afternoon Mrs. Whipple, the prisoner’s sister, called at the jail to bid her brother good-bye, as she intended to go to her home in Oklahoma. After the visit was over Dalton was searched by Jailer Williams before he was taken to his cell. The train robber was indignant and used a great deal of profane language toward Mr. Williams. Whisky had furnished Dalton by his relatives, and he was in an insolent mood. Dalton was so angry he cried like a baby, and swore that he would be avenged for the indignities he had undergone. The prisoner has been treated with a good deal of consideration since he has been an inmate of the county jail, and has been allowed liberties not vouchsafed other prisoners.”
The Daily Inter Ocean, Aug. 26, 1891: ST LOUIS, Mo., Aug. 25. - A dispatch from Caldwell, Kan., says: William Grimes, United States Marshal for the Indian Territory, has taken charge of the remains of Deputy Short, who was killed by Charley Bryant, one of the Dalton gang. Mr. Grimes says that from this time it is a war of extermination; that the black flag has been raised and his deputies will shoot on sight. Several arrests of Dalton symphatizers have already been made. The trail of the Daltons has been found, and every deputy marshal in the Territory is on it. Marshal Grimes is in receipt of news hourly, and before forty-eight hours pass the capture of the Dalton gang of desperadoes is anticipated. That this result will be attended by bloodshed is a foregone conclusion. Bryant was wanted for many crimes, chief of which was the robbery of a pay train in Arizona. The Daltons are duplicates of the James boys, and much bloodshed will be witnessed before they are captured.
Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Sept. 8, 1891: GUTHRIE, O. T., Sept. 8. - A Wells Fargo courier from the Sac and Fox Agency, sixty miles east of here, arrived at this place last evening. He brings a report to the officer of the Wells Fargo express from Special Agent Dodge, who was sent out by the express company to locate the noted Dalton gang who robbed the express car on the Santa Fe some time ago. Dodge reports that he was held up by the gang, but escaped after his horse had been shot from under him and after he himself had been slightly wounded.
The St. Louis Republic, Sept. 16, 1891: Special to the Republic. DENISON, Tex., Sept. 16. - The southbound express train No. 3 on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway was held up and robbed [At Leliaetta, I. T.] by a posse of masked men at 8 o'clock last night .
...The engineer was compelled to force an entrance to the express car, which he succeeded in doing, and three men then climbed in. One covered the express meesenger, J. H. Perrin, with a Winchester while the two others ransacked one safe and the papers. One large bag of silver was found and thrown out by Perrin at the robbers' request. A tall, slim individual, who appeared to be the leader of the gang, said to Perrin: “Open that safe.”
“I can’t; don’t know the combination.”
“If you don’t open it I’ll blow your brains out.”
The conductor stepped forward and verified the Perrin statement, which seemed to satisfy them. After ransacking still a few more packages and confiscating a pair of Perrin’s shoes the robbers left the car and started for their horses, which were hitched at the stock sheds near by. Perrin was forced to carry the bag of silver for them to the horses, when he was told to return quietly to the car. After he had done so and the train started, the robbers fired one shot and started off in a northerly direction.
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 21, 1891: Marshal Knight was asked by a reporter if he had heard anything from the pursuit of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas train robbers. “No,” said he, “and I have got a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot of fellows after the Dalton gang who don’t want to get a sight of them.
Prescott Morning Courier, Sept. 29, 1891: Visalia, Cal., September 28. - A jail delivery occurred last night. Among others, Grattan Dalton, the notorious desperado and train robber, escaped.
Evening Bulletin (San Francisco), Sept. 30, 1891: The railroad men are very indignant at the escape of Grattan Dalton from the Visalia Jail. He was to have been sentenced next Monday for the part he took in the Alila train robbery. He is regarded as the shrewdest of the four Dalton brothers - Emmet, Bob, Bill and Grattan - all of whom have records of a more or less criminal nature. Grattan is wanted at Kansas City for a crime committed there some years ago.
The Chicago Herald, Oct. 12, 1891: GUTHRIE, O. T., Oct. 11. - A deputy marshal coming in from the Creek Nation to-night states that Marshal Heck Thomas and the California detective who was sent here, accompanied by a party of Indians, have cornered the Dalton gang in the western part of the reservation. They have captured their supplies and trailed them to their rendezvous. The Daltons have sent a note to Marshal Thomas warning him to go away and let them alone on peril of his life. They say their position is impreganble, and they will kill every man attempting to capture them.
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 17, 1891: Deputy United States Marshal Ansley came down from the Indian territory yesterday to see Dallas with her fair clothes on. He has been in the chase after the Dalton gang and brings fresh news of the pursuit. After getting the pursuing parties away up in the northeast corner of the territory the Daltons gave them the slip just as easy as water runs through a sieve. The officers have given up all hope of capturing the outlaws for the present at least. Mr. Ansley tells how one of the special express detectives was decoyed by means of a letter to a lonely spot at night. He was ambushed and barely escaped with his life.
The Arizona Republican, Nov. 28, 1891: The Dalton boys now occupy the place in border interest once held by the James boys, but stir around much more, as there are five of them. Three of them are in Oklahoma or thereabout, as supposed, one remains in jail at Visalia, Cal., and the fifth and most daring of the lot has just vacated that structure with two companions.
Nobody pretends to know how many train robberies Grattan Dalton has been engaged in, but he is accused of so many that Well's, Fargo & Co., and the Southern Pcific company have offerd $3,000 reward for his delivery to Sheriff Kay, of Tulare county, Cal. ...
The hunt was long and expensive, but Grattan Dalton was run down, tried and convicted. His brother William was in a cell above Grattan’s. On a quiet Sunday Grattan Dalton, W. B. Beck and William Barton Smith, the two latter ordinary robbers, sawed through the rear of the cage in which they were confined, opened two outer doors with keys furnished by somebody and were soon off in the hills. William Dalton remains and is tickled half to death over this escape. Bob and Emmet are running at large in Oklahoma, and Frank, according to a report, was slain in a general street fight in which four men and one woman was killed. William says his older brothers robbed a train when they were but sixteen and eighteen years of age, and “don’t forget,” he adds, “that they are dead game.” He is a free talker and a great singer, and when Sheriff Kay is about his favourite song is:
Oh, there may be flies on Sheriff Kay,
But there’s none on the Dalton boys.
Now, here is an interesting article. It definitely confuses the Daltons with some other outlaws, whether they were also Daltons or not.
Sunday World-Herald, Jan. 17, 1892: El Reno,Ok., Correspondence of the St. Louis Republic: Among the border desperadoes who find their calling and occupation gone since the opening of the Indian lands, none die harder or with more vindictive malevolence than the Daltons, known everywhere as the Dalton gang. Other criminals pursue their dangerous calling with as little noise as possible. They at least try to kep out of the way of the officers. The Dalton gang seems, on the other hand, to court publicity, and there is nothing, apparently, which they relish so much as a fight with officers and a posse. ...The Daltons always outgeneraled their enemies, selected the battlefield, fortified themselves and forced the fighting. The authorities have, on the whole, lost more than the outlaws, although the latter, either through death or removal, have diminished in numbers, during the last two years, from seven or eight to four or five. Two of them, it is believed, are in the Mexican mines, a third is known to be in Arizona, where he is outlawing on his own account, and without a partnership. If the whereabouts of all three of the missing Daltons can thus be accounted for it appears that they have lost nothing in the fights of of the last two or three years.
The list of casualties among the men who have pursued them is much greater. Two or three of the United States marshals who have died with their boots on in the territory in the last year or two are to be credited to their account. Among the posses four or five who have been killed are charged up to the Daltons, and although, in all probability, they are not responsible for all of the men killed from ambush, they are for many of them, and the number of men known to have been killed by them is not small.
Their [the Daltons’] origin is involved in some mystery. It is known that the “old man” drifted north from Texas soon after the war. ...The average pilgrim who floats over the plains of the southwest in his white-topped wagon is as amiable person as you would care to meet unless he is “riled.” Old man Dalton, however, was in a “riled” condition most of the time, and his interesting family grew up under conditions not calculated to warrant the most brilliant anticipations of their future careers
Tom Dalton, the oldest of the sons, attracted attention twelve or fifteen years ago as the most daring and intrepid of the gang. His field of operations was anywhere between the Rio Grande and the Arkansas. The first notch on the stock of his rifle is believed to have been cut in commemoration of the killing of the sheriff of a county in northern Texas not far from the Panhandle. At that time he was the head of a gang of rustlers who were pursuing their calling of driving off cattle belonging to ranchers. Some of the smaller herds had been practically broken up by the gang, of which Tom Dalton was not only the chief in authority, but the soul and inspiration of action. ...
This could be where the stories of the Daltons (Bob’s gang) stealing cattle started. It is obvious that these guys operated well before Bob and Co. stepped outside the law.
The father of this interesting family has gradually disappeared from view as his promising sons have reached the age where his paternal counsel and advice is not so necessary to their guidance. Having given all of them an elementary education in law-braking, he considered his parental responsibilities discharged and retired upon his laurels. His expectations have been fully realized. Tom Dalton, “Nate,” the second son; Saunders Martin and Nelson, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, together with a number of kindred spirits attracted by the boldness and success of their oprations; have for years past been the curse of the border. Horse stealing, stage robbing and robbery of passengers in the old-fashioned Dick Turpin and Claude Duval style have furnished variety for the employment of their versitile talents. It has been a source of wonder to everybody that they have never essayed train robbing.
...The Daltons were feeling the pressure of the incoming tide of white immigrants and the increase of vigilance on the part of government officers and other agents of the law. Society in the new community was still unorganized and crude, but it was a better society than the Daltons liked, and they took the field against it. What might be called a running fight has now been maintained for more than two years. ...
The last time the gang was run to earth was in the northwest corner of the Cheyenne Indian reservation. They had come out of the Five Nations where they had stolen about twenty head of horses and killed two or three men, crossed Oklahoma from east to west and were evidently headed again to No-Man’s-Land. Heck Thomas, the city marshal of Guthrie, accompanied by a mysterious individual known as the California detective, who is supposed to be commissioned to the work of breaking up the Dalton gang, had struck their trail and were hot upon it. ...The trail was warm, but before the outlaw party was overhauled, they sent a note to Thomas, stating that they had fortified themselves in an impregnable position and would kill every man who came near them. Their record justified the threat, but did not deter the expedition. In the rough country of the northwest reservation, the pursuers were at a decided disadvantage, and the game once more escaped. They got into No-Man’s-Land, and were last heard of in New Mexico.
The Indian territory is now practically rid of the Dalton gang, but they have left a long trail of blood behind them.
After the Adair train robbery (see further down), St. Louis Globe-Democrat ran an article about the Dalton gang. Here we meet some more strange Daltons. The following excerpts are from this article: “There are four of the Dalton brothers who are known to have committed train robberies in the past. Only two of them — Ed and Charley — were in Thursday night's hold-up. The other two boys a year ago were captured in California after desperate resistance and convicted of robbing a Wells-Fargo express car on the Southern Pacific Railroad at Toulare, near Los Angeles. They were sentenced for life in the California Penitentiary and are now serving their terms. All four of the boys were were in the California robbery, but Ed and Charley eluded capture and made their way back to the Indian Territory. They had been driven out of the Territory only after a bloody war between themselves and their sympathizers on the one hand and officers and cattlemen on the other.”
“Since the hold-ups at both Red Rock, on the Santa Fe, and Leliaetta, on the ‘Katy,’ they have been bold enough to ride into Wagoner with their wagons and teams and buy supplies for their ranch.”
“A man who has nearly all his life lived in the section of the Indian Territory described, and who is well acquainted with the Daltons and all their kith and kin, was at the headquarters of a prominent detective agency here yesterday.
A Detective's Story.
‘Don't for God's sake use my name,’ he begged of a Globe-Democrat reporter, ‘for if you do my life will not be worth shucks when I return to the Territory. ...the Daltons will never be taken alive. They are much more desperate than the James boys, and Charley especially is perhaps the quickest man on the trigger who ever carried a pistol. Ed, though older, is not near so nervy as his brother, and Charley has really been the leader of the gang since its organization. Somehow or other he has picked up a smattering of education which none of the other boys possess, and when occasion requires he can be as genteel and mild-a-mannered man as e'er cut a throut or scuttled a ship. To his other crimes of murder and theft is added polygamy. There is no telling how many wives he has married, and his wives are all intelligent, good-looking women.”
The Morning Olympian, Jan. 27, 1892: GUTHRIE, Jan. 27. - The northern part of the Sac and Fox reservation, which adjoins the mountain district of the Creek country, harbors the worst gang of outlaws in the southwest. Among the hills the three Dalton brothers, wanted for train robbery and murder, have lived for nearly a year, eluding the officers and defying crpture. T. M. Stainer, formerly of Iowa, was two weeks ago made postmaster of Harvey and had opened a large general store there. On Sunday, when Stainer was absent from the place, half a dozen rough looking characters rode into town escorting a negro who was driving a mule team to a large wagon. While part of the gang with loaded Winchesters kept the few residents at a distance, the rest broke open the store and liaded the most valuable portion of the stock on the wagon. Then they drove leisurely out of the place and disappeared in thick woods. It is generally believed that the thieves are a portion of the Dalton gang, and they took this means of replenishing their supplies.
The Fresno Weekly Republican, Feb. 26, 1892: Grattan Dalton one of the Southern Pacific train robbers who escaped from the Visalia jail last January, has written a letter to a friend in San Francisco in which he says he was unfairly treated by the sheriff of Tulare county.
Dalton describes his escape from the jail as follows: “I had saws in my cell for two months after my indictment, but did not want to escape as I was innocent and thought I would come clear. So I wrapped the saws up in paper and gave them to my attorney John W. Breckenridge, as my private papers to be taken care of, and he has them yet. But the prosecution got so hard that I concluded that I could stand it no longer, and we sawed out with two case knives and dug a hole through the wall back of my cell only to find straps of iron in the wall. Then we tried to pick the lock of the window for two nights, but we found we could not succeed. We then got a monkey wrench from a fellow prisoner and got out the third night. We then took a team from the court yard and drove to a friend where I armed myself and we held a council what we should do with the team.
The boys wanted to keep it as we were needing horses very badly, but I told them no, that I would as soon be called a detective as a horse thief, so we sent the team to Tulare city and I got a horse from a friend and the other two took it afoot. I am very thankful to the gentleman that owned the team and I will reward him for its use some day. I also remain very thankful to Mr. Williams, Mr. Hall and Mr. Witty for their kind treatment to me while I was in jail and I don't think the public should censure them for my escape as the cells are so dark that a person cannot see whether a prisoner is in his cell or not.
The St. Louis Republic, June 3, 1892: DESPERADOES WHO WERE POLITE. GUTHRIE, Ok., June 2. - Last night as the south-bound Santa Fe passenger train, which is due here at 11:20, was leaving Redrock, a water station in the Cherokee Strip, two masked men climbed into the engine and compelled the engineer, Carl Mac, to stop the train at the stock yards, a short distance from the station. They were joined by five others. The robbers then compelled Firemen Rogers to break open the door of the Wells-Fargo express car at the points of ahalf dozen Winchesters, while the two messengers were firing through the door from the inside. ...
The robbery was a unique one in the history of the Indian Territory outlawry. In the first place, the robbers got everything in sight. Again, during a battle between the messengers and the bandits, in which nearly two hundred shots were fired, not a man was wounded. Then, again, the robbers were of gentlemanly appearance and deportment in their relations with the train men, who were not pressed into their service and with the passengers, several of whom conversed with the robbers’ leader.
Finally the robbery was doubtless committed by the notorious Dalton gang, for whom large rewards are still standing and who were even then being tracked by a detective and his posse, who were behind them no more than a day’s journey on horseback. ...
The Santa Fe Company offers $500 reward, and the express company will do likewise. It is now thought the robbers secured only about $2,500, but the officers will say nothing. Had they gone through the passengers they would have done much better, for one Texas banker had $31,000 in his satchel and two cattlemen had from $1,000 to $3,000 each on their persons. [Read E. W. Snoddy's account of going after the Dalton gang following the Red Rock robbery.]
Galveston Daily News, July 16, 1892: VINITA, I. T., July 16. - [Special] - The Missouri, Kansas and Texas train No. 2 northbound was robbed at Adair, twenty miles south of this city, last night. For a week it has been known that the notorious Dalton boys with several associates, making a party of eleven, were in the country below here and the railroad company put guards on its night trains Monday and has continued them ever since. All eyes have been turned to Pryor’s creek as the point of attack, and until the train whistled for this station last night no one thought of Adair as the place of operation.
At the moment named several men surrounded Night Operator Haywood and ordered him to flag her down. As they were fully armed he had no alternative and complied. As the conductor stepped off the train he was made a prisoner and a moment later the entire crew were doing duty as breastworks. The officers were riding in the smoker and one of them loking out of the window saw the conductor's lantern drop and knew in an instant they had found their men. They jumped off the train on the opposite side from the depot and found themselves right in the middle of the robbers with the latter, being accustomed to the dark, having the best of it. A short fight tookplace here, in which Detective J. J. Kinney of the railroad company was shot in the shoulder, an Indian policeman named Laflore was shot in his arms and an officer named Johnson had his watch shot to pieces, the same bullet embedding itself in his arm. About the same time that this fight was going on or immediately after a volley was poured into the Pacific express car and Messenger George P. Williams finally opened the door. Meantime the officers were compelled to desist firing lest they might shoot some of the train crew. The express local safe was quickly robbed and the messenger ordered to open the throughsafe. He declared he could not unlock it, but went to work and soon got the door open. While the express car was being rifled the operator was taken into the depot and ordered to open the station safe, but finally satified the men that he could not do so. The cash drawer was broken open and $3 or $4 secured from it. When the robbery was completed three or four of the men started down the street west from the depot, and 200 feet from there, sitting on a porch, they passed Dr.W. L. Gofe of Fredricktown, Mo., and Dr. T. S. Youngblood of Adair. They fired on them, and Gofe fell forward, exclaiming: “I am killed.” Dr. Youngblood, although shot in the leg started to run, but another bullet dropped him. He made his way to the depot and told what had happened and Dr. Gofe was picked up and found to be badly shot in both limbs. Youngblood got a shot in the leg and one in the foot. Both men were taken upon the train and brought to this city, where surgical aid could be obtained...
The express agents think very little money was obtained, as the official issued orderes recently to dispatch no money by night trains.
PARSONS, Kan., July 15. - It is definitely known that the Adair train robbery was committed by the Daltons. ...
Two stray bullets entered a drugstore up town injuring Drs. Youngblood and Goff sitting in the building at the time. Youngblood has since died. Goff is in serious condition.
DENISON, Tex., July 15. - The following reward has been offered by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway company and Pacific express company:
“The express car on the northbound train of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railway was robbed by masked men at Adair, O. T., Thursday night, July 14. A reward of $5000 will be paid by the undersigned for the arrest and conviction of each of the men engaged in this robbery to an amount not exceeding $40,000.
“Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company, by Thos. C. Purdy, Second Vice President.
“Pacific Express Company, by L. A. Fuller, Superintendent.”
Indian Chieftain, July 21, 1892: ...When the work of the raiders had been finished and they were retiring from the scene, the most unfortunate occurrence of the evening took place. Dr. W. L. Goff, who has of late been residing at Fredricktown, Mo., but was back at Adair on a visit, and Dr. T. S. Youngblood, engaged in practice at Adair, were seated on the porch of the Skinner store building, some sixty-five yards from the track. In leaving the train three or four of the robbers passed through the street in front of these doctors and as they got opposite fired a volley of eighteen or twenty shots at them. Both were shot in each leg and Dr. Goff fell forward excaiming “I’m killed.” ...It was plainly seen that Dr. Goff’s principal wound which was in the knee, was of a dangerous character, and it was determined that the only hope for him was to amputate the leg. The operation was carefully performed and the patient recovered from the inluence of chloroform, but he had lost too much blood and died next morning at half past five. ...
On an examination of Dr. Youngblood’s condition, when daylight came it was discovered that his right foot was badly shot and it was taken off at the instep. If nothing unforeseen happens he will recover.
Emmett wrote in his books that stray bullets hit the doctors. He may well have belived this, or been unwilling to believe otherwise, especially as he was left alone to carry the burden of the doings of the Dalton gang for the rest of his life. No counseling was available in those days. Considering, he did remarkably well. Those, who put him down for twisting the truth, should think how they would have been, had they trodden the same paths as Emmett had.
(Much more about the Adair robbery can be found in the very interesting book Captain Jack and the Dalton Gang by John J. Kinney, the University Press of Kansas, 2005. Detective J. J. Kinney mentioned above was the great-grandfather of the author.)
Kansas City Star, July 18, 1892: It is to be hoped that the “Dalton gang” in the Indian territory, which is just now making a specialty of train-robbing, is not to be kept up as a permanent institution. Stories are told of the “pull” these robbers have on the population in the neighborhood of their haunts, but robbers have been run to earth ere this who had not only local sympathy in their behalf, but a considerable newspaper support. It is the United States Government that is opposed to these Daltons, and surely the Government is the stronger. Court expenses in these cases should be kept as low as possible and the saving expended in ammunition
Aberdeen Daily News, July 20, 1892: ADAIR, I. T., July 20. - The Dalton gang of outlaws, who committed the train robbery near this place Thursday night last, are still in this vicinity. Their camp, located about ten miles from town, in the mountains near Grand river, was accidentally discovered by a resident of this town while searching for strayed horses. He was held up by their sentry, but when he explained his mission he was allowed to depart unmolested. It is supposed that the Daltons are delayed on account of some of their men being wounded, as they have made several trips into town for medicine. No effort is being made by local authorities to effect their capture.
Galveston Daily News, July 27, 1892: The old adage that “blood will tell” seems to be demostrated in the case of the Daltons. Their mother was a sister of the notorious Youngers, a relationship of which they are very proud. Bob Younger Dalton is the leader of the Dalton gang that to-day is terrorizing the Indian territory and the express agents who pass through it. Not many years ago Bob was a United States deputy marshal for the Fort Smith court and made this country his home. He was one of the best and most fearless officers who ever rode the territory, and as a great terror to the outlaws then as he is to the lawabiding citizens now. In conversation with his fellow officers on several occasions he attributed his daring and fearless nature to the Younger blood which flowed in his veins. The tincture of outlaw seems to have been too strong to make him a good officer, however, for he lost his commission as deputy marshal on account of a practice of arresting men and afterward robbing them. Shortly, after Bob Dalton’s dismissal from the marshal force, and but a few days before his first daring train robbery on the Santa Fe, he remarked to Deputy Marshal Jennings that the railroads and Uncle Sam owed him about a million dollars and if they didn't pay him pretty soon he would proceed to collect it anyway. Bob Dalton has two brothers, Emmett and Grant, both of whom are outlaws of the most pronounced type, fearless and daring. The two latter, previous to Bob’s departure as a robber and freebooter, bore the reputation of peaceful, law-abiding men, but after he made his first haul they eagerly joined their fortunes with that of their older brother.
The Fresno Weekly Republican, Aug. 19, 1892: ...Chris Evans was one of the most indefatigable attendants during the trial of Grattan Dalton for complicity in the Alila train robbery. The trial took place in the courthouse here, and day after day Evans sat outside the railing drinking in every word. He had little to say, however, to the general public concerning the evidence. But after Detective Smith’s testimony had been given, the usual taciturnity of Evans was overcome by his manifest hatred of the detective, whose testimony proved so damaging to Dalton’s cause. Evans declared to an acquaintance that Smith’s story was a pack of lies. “I would not hesitate a minute to shoot down a – – – – like that detective if he’d lie on me as he lied on Dalton,” Evans growled out, and an evil gleam could be seen in his eye.
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 1, 1892: GUTHRIE, Ok., Aug. 31. - A number of parties here and at Arkansas City are organizing a posse to go into the Indian territory and attempt to capture the notorious Dalton gang of train robbers. They have definite knowledge of the location of the gang’s rendezvous and are thoroughly posted on their movements. It is said they obtained their information from a dissatified member of the gang who has agreed to betray his comrades for a percentage of the rewards to be obtained.
Tacoma Daily News, Sept. 15, 1892: ...The Dalton’s are probably the most notorious outlaws in the country.
There are three brothers - Robert, George and Jim. Only two, however, have been identified with the industry of robbing trains, banks, express cars and killing people. George is a moderate farmer, living on a little ranch in southwestern part of Kansas, where he is respected by his neighbors as an industrious, law-abiding citizen.
All the boys were born and raised in Kansas, and not in Missouri, as has been charged in the press so many times, and their parents were liked for miles around for their honesty, charitable deeds and other good qualities.
Bob and Jim first began to slide into deeds of outlawry by running off cattle in the neutral strip and selling them to herders in Colorado. They continued at this business for several years until it got so warm for them they were compelled to flee the country to deprive the community of the festivities of a lynching bee. This seemed to be the turning point in the lives of the boys, and since that time there has been no crime too daring for them to commit.
The first heard of the boys after leaving their Kansas home was in California, where they were accused of robbing a train, waylaying stage coaches and murdering several people. They continued their their desperado life in California for two years, until one of the boys was captured for a murder in a stage coach affair, and after a desperate fight with the courts of the Golden State, narrowly escaping the halter, the boys left the State about the time of the opening of Oklahoma in 1889, and since that time their deeds of outlawry in the Indian Territory have equalled, if not surpassed, the famous James and Younger boys in their palmiest days of plunder and murder.
The boys certainly had been busy. They must have started when just knee-high!
After their return to Oklahoma from California the boys came and went as they pleased, being seen and recognized at nearly every town in the territory by friends and acquaintances, and at one time in Kingfisher, while in that place buying some supplies for his mother, Bob was recognized by a prominent United States marshal and conversed with the officer for over an hour.
It is said that Bob one day in Guthrie actually saluted Governor Steele on the street and afterwards joked about it while relating it to a crowd of friends in a neighboring saloon.
...Their first real attempt at train robbing in the Territory was at the little way station of Wharton, about two years ago, on the Santa Fe. The boys had received the information from some of their confederates that a large sum of money was being shipped to Fort Reno for the purpose of paying the troops at that post. Others say that the Daltons were informed of the intended shipment of money by persons living at the fort and who knew about the time the train and money were expected. Be that as it may, the band appeared at Wharton and waited around in the vicinity several days.
The night it was expected the train would pass bearing the money, and just an hour before the train was to arrive, the robbers appeared on the platform and demanded of the operator that he open up the door. They wanted to know if the train was on time, and the operator informed them that it was about two hours late. There was only one other person besides the operator present. The station, consisting of no other buildings than the little depot and coal shed, afforded the boys good opportunity for the daring deed they were about to commit. The operator recognized Bob Dalton, and fearing that he had notified the approaching train of the attempt that was to be made on the express car, they decided to kill the operator. At any rate he was killed, and the bandits left the place and abandoned the attempt to steal the Fort Reno money.
So now it has become an ‘established fact’ that the Dalton’s killed a man during the Wharton robbery.
Several months after this the Daltons held up a train at a point only a few miles from Wharton. They secured a large sum of money, and although a posse of more than one hundred deputy marshals and cowboys participated in the race to capture the bandits, they all escaped except a man named Bryant, who was arrested on the Rock Island road, August 28, 1891, by Deputy United States Marshal Ed Shortt. ...
It seems almost incredible that these daring men, with more than one half of their number killed and in captivity, with possibly one other companion with them, should turn up at Adair, on the Missouri Pacific, in the eastern part of the territory and relieve the express car of a large sum of money.
In this job the express car was guarded by several Pinkertons, and in the fight that ensued, two physicians who were on the train, were killed. Before the excitement of this robbery had died down they appeared in El Reno one morning, and when the streets were crowded with people and teams entered the leading bank and at the point of thier revolvers compelled the cashier to hand out all the money there was in the bank, something like $100,000.
Grand Forks Daily Herald, Sept. 15, 1892: DEMING, N. M., Sept. 14. - Grant Dalton, Bob Dalton, Amy Dalton, Sam Witgo, and “Three-Fingered Jack,” all of the famous Dalton gang that has perpetrated so many train robberies in Indian Territory were captured here last night. The gang were run upon a short distance from here and in the fight which took place between the marshal’s posse and the robbers, two of the latter were killed and five captured. Three of the gang are yet at large and the posse expect to capture them within a day or two.
I have received this information concerning "Sam Witgo" from Matt Wingo, who has studied the family history: "The Sam Witgo is not Witgo, it is Sam Wingo. Samuel Wingo who was a deputy marshal out of Fort Smith and knew the Daltons. He had been a railroad detective as well. I have tracked Sam for years and the last account is here in Deming, in this article and others."
Idaho Daily Statesman, Sept. 16, 1892: EL PASO, Tex., Sept. 15. - The report sent by a special correspondent last night from Paris, Tex., to the effect that the Dalton gang was captured at Deming, N. M., is denied by Governor Ross, who states that the robbers have not been seen in the territory.
The next time the Daltons got a mention in the papers, it was accompanied by striking headlines, declaring the end of the gang at Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892.
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