Destination Hollywood


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Emmett Dalton was determined to succeed in using the Coffeyville raid as a moral lesson for the youth of America. With a refreshed version of the Dalton movie, he toured the country lecturing against crime. He finally wrote his book, and then headed off to Hollywood to make yet another Dalton movie, now based on his book.

Kansas City Star, April 2, 1911: A report has been circulated that Emmett Dalton, the former bandit, pardoned from the Lansing penitentiary by Governor Hoch, is working in an El Paso, Tex., gambling hall, watching a keno game. A telegram sent by the Star last night to El Paso brought an answer that a man who admitted he was one of the Dalton boys was keeper of a keno game. That man, however, is not Emmett Dalton. A telegram from Bartlesville, Ok., said Emmett Dalton was living in Bartlesville, was married and occupied his time attending to his wife’s business interests, which are many.

The Alaska Citizen, Aug. 7, 1911: NOTED BANDIT ON MORALS - “My advice to the young men and boys of the present day is that they should obey the law to the letter. Never try to hold up a bank. I tried it once and served fourteen years and four months in the state penitentiary at Lansing, Kan. I had been sentenced for life.”

So says Emmett Dalton, youngest member of the notorious band of outlaws known as the Dalton gang who threw the town of Coffeyville, Kan., into panic on the morning of October 5, 1892…

Emmett Dalton, in those days quick as a cat and possessed of iron nerve and muscles of steel, rode at top speed out of town. Though terribly wounded, he continued his flight, and it was not until an hour and a half had pased that he was brought to earth.

The posse conducted him to Independence for safe keeping. He remained in jail there for over 70 days and then was arraigned on two charges of first degree murder and one of bank robbery. A verdict of guilty was returned and the prisoner was sentenced to a life term in the Lansing prison.

His excellent deportment in the prison won him many friends. Not a black mark was registered against him during his stay of 14 years and 4 months. Governor Hoch paroled him, and on November 8, 1907, granted him a full pardon.

Dalton now is in the prime of his life, and he says he will devote his time teaching lessons from his career.

“The sea of time,” he says, “is strewn with wrecks, and most of these wrecks are caused by men and boys not following the true chart in the voyage of life. The only chart is the advice of God, wife and mother, and the influence of a happy home. In these you find all the dangers pointed out. They build a beacon on every reef. Always follow good advice. The young man who refuses to listen to father or mother goes from bad to worse until he sinks beneath the wave of humiliation and disgrace.

Be strong for the right, and against the wrong. Be manly. There is only one thing in the world that equals a manly man, and that is a womanly woman. The world is full of dudes and butterflies, but men and women are at a premium. Life is full of tempter’s wiles. Siren songs entice and the charms of sin allure, and unless the unwary youth beware, he will be snared into the meshes of sin. If you want to do great good do not cater to the low or vicious.”

Dalton will probably spend the balance of the summer in Colorado.

We may well laugh at his language, but this was in 1911. He certainly sounds like a preacher and this became his gospel for the rest of his life. He never had been a real bad or a mean man, and obviously had suffered terribly for the folly of his youth. This subject was close to his heart, and if he could turn just one man away from the path of crime, his preaching would not have been in vain.

While John Tackett teamed up with Scout Younger to make a western movie in Tulsa, Emmett went on to make a new version of his moving pictures. It first appeared in 1911 under the title The Last Raid of the Dalton Gang, in 1912 it was The Last Stand of the Dalton Boys, later still The True Life History of the Dalton Boys.

Kevin Brownlow in The War, The West And The Wilderness wrote: “…The only surviving member of the notorious Dalton gang, he used the moving picture to illustrate his wild past as a grim example to modern youth. The Last Stand of the Dalton Boys (1912) was a three-reeler, directed by Jack Kenyon, who had worked for Selig. Advertisements called it ’the Triumph of Western Realism,’ and it undoubtedly contained a great deal of valuable documentary material; it was ’taken on exact localities’ and ’posed by people that actually took part in the raid.’ The picture opens at the childhood home of the Daltons, where they were brought up by a devoted mother. The boys grew to manhood, and the oldest, Frank Dalton, enrolls as a deputy U. S. marshal, helping to stamp out bootleggers. He is shot in the performance of his duties, and his brothers, Bob and Emmett, become deputies to avenge his death. Through political chicanery, the Daltons are ousted from the service without their back pay, and they turn to crime, organizing the Dalton gang. They terrorize the Southwest until the final raid at Coffeyville, Kansas, where they stage the first double bank-robbery on 5 October 1892. The film ends with the shooting of Emmett and his arrest as he lies helpless in Death Alley. There was a coda showing his conviction and pardon.”

Additionally, from papers: “…Then Bob, Emmet and Grat become U.S. marshals and suffer all the hardships that fall to the lot of the range riders who have given their lives to bringing order out of chaos. Through the dishonesty of their paymaster they were forced to retire from the service of Uncle Sam and then began a reign of terror never equalled in the Southwest. Shows their first crime - a very common one at that time, horse stealing, and all the various dangers they went through - including the holding up of a train at Adair to the planning of the Coffeyville, Kansas, raid. Here Death Alley, the Condon Bank and the First National Bank, Shoe Store, the Livery Man and the Hardware Man are faithfully portrayed. Shows Emmet Dalton returning to pick up his fallen brother Bob - the barber who wounded Emmet - Emmet’s arrest. The expiation of his crime, his return to his home and his welcome by one who always believed in him, his mother.” “…Original target practice scene on Snow Creek, near Coffeyville; eggs are used for targets. Campground night before the raid. Bob Dalton awakening the gang. Starting for Coffeyville. Dick Broadwell, a member of the gang, climbing telegraph poles to cut wires between Ft. Smith, Ark., and Coffeyville. … ATTENTION - These pictures are not stage work, but the real production; showing the battle between the citizens and the desperadoes at the Plaza in Coffeyville, the banks where the robbery took place” etc., etc.

William Selig was a noted pioneer of the American motion picture industry. Tom Mix from Bartlesville, who later became a famed western star, had gone to work with Selig in 1910.

Tom Mix and Emmett Dalton

Emmett with Tom Mix in later years at Hollywood (Courtesy of Jim Mitchell)

Advertisement, Moberly, Missouri, June 1911: At the Bijou This Week EMMETT DALTON in a reproduction of the Dalton raid of 1892 at Coffeyville, Kansas. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR MONEY CHEERFULLY REFUNDED


The robbing of the two banks in broad daylight posed and created by the only surviving member, EMMETT DALTON who was pardoned from the Kansas State Penitentiary after serving fifteen years out of a 99-year sentence imposed upon him. Every scene in this pictured story being enacted on the same grounds where the original scenes took place and covering a radius of eight miles.

These motion pictures are accompanied with a lecture, and is a good moral lesson, being approved by the press and public; also the St. Louis, Chicago, and Kansas City board as being one of the greatest moral lessons ever produced in motion pictures, demonstrating that the wages of sin is death.

The lecture explains each and every act as they appear on the screen. Run in connection with the regular picture show program, making two shows in one.

This time he had the approval of all. Governor Stubbs and all the “petty politicians” stayed quiet.


So great and hearty was the public approval yesterday on this wonderful picture, that the management decided to hold this sensational picture over for another day. It is a truly sensational film, and full of life of the frontier days.

It shows the last raid of the Dalton Gang in Coffeyville, Kansas, on October the fifth, 1892. The robbing of the two banks in broad daylight posed and created by the only surviving member, Emmett Dalton.

Every scene is enacted on the identical grounds where the original scenes took place just a few years ago. These pictures are accompanied by a lecture and have been endorsed by all the leading cities, as one of the greatest moral lessons, demonstrating that “The wages of sin is death.” It leaves a lasting impression on all who hear it.

Advertisement, Athens, Ohio, Oct. 19, 1912: TONIGHT---FEATURE NIGHT At “THE GRAND”

The Greatest Moral Lesson Ever Produced in Motion Pictures LAST STAND OF THE DALTON BOYS AT COFFEYVILLE, KANSAS. 3---REELS---3

Photographed on exact localities where the Dalton Gang operated. Most realistic moving picture ever produced. Acted by the only and original EMMETT DALTON The One Living Survivor of the Famous Band. A Picture Every Man, Woman and Child should see. ALWAYS 5 CENTS.

Advertisement, Janesville, Wisconsin, Feb. 1913: APOLLO THEATER VERY SPECIAL PROGRAM Thursday Afternoon and Evening

…And by special arrangement with the Atlas Feature Film Co., a presentation of their 3000 foot films. “THE LAST STAND OF THE DALTON BOYS” With Emmett Dalton as the Principal.

PROGRAM: FEATURE 1- Last Stand of the Dalton Boys. Part one. FEATURE 2- The Cowboy monologist - Harry L. Siebert FEATURE 3- Chief White Eagle, Cheyenne Indian in Clay Modeling Speciality, presenting a- Buffalo Bill, b- Sitting Bull, c- George Washington, d- Abraham Lincoln, e- Pat Clancy of Denver, f- Fong Lee, the ranch cook FEATURE 4- Roping contest - Jack Macurio of Senora, Mexico, will demonstrate how Long Horns are roped and branded in Texas FEATURE 5- Last Stand of the Dalton Boys. Part two. FEATURE 6- A Realistic Western Comedy entitled: A CHEYENNE REHEARSAL Note: During the action of the comedy, a genuine Cheyenne War dance is given by White Eagle, also the sensational shooting of Jack Macurio. FEATURE 7- Last Stand of the Dalton Boys. Part three.

The Oklahoman, Aug. 5, 1913: Crowd witnessing motion picture production of the Dalton gang early day escapades was so large at Henryetta last week that a portion of the floor in the theater gave way, according to Henryetta Free Lance.

The “Princess Theater” in Joplin, Missouri, was showing Emmett's film on the 7th and 8th of August. Emmett was in town and got himself in some trouble.

The Joplin Daily Globe, Aug. 17, 1913: EMMETT DALTON GOES TO JAIL - Former Convict Unable to Pay Fine Imposed for Drunkenness. Emmett Dalton, member of the “Dalton Gang,” who was released from the Kansas penitentiary a few years ago after serving a long sentence for bank robbery, has been in the city jail three times within the last ten days. He now is serving out a fine $1 and costs, imposed in police court yesterday morning after he had pleaded guilty to a charge of drukenness.

After each of Dalton’s arrests here a charge of drukenness was placed against him. He was near the corner of Ninth and Main streets when taken into custody the last time. That was Friday night. Yesterday morning he was one of a small group that faced Police Judge Laughlin. He had only $2.15 when arrested, which was not enough to pay his fine and the costs in the case.

Help for Emmett came from an unexpected source...

Kansas City Star, Aug. 23, 1913: JOPLIN, Mo., Aug.23. - “I nursed an oath to kill Emmett Dalton fifteen years,” said J. G. Brown, a young miner, as he tried to induce the judge in police court to free Dalton or reduce his fine so that Brown could pay it. “Now I have seen the folly of my way of thinking and want to help him instead of doing him harm.”

Brown said that Dalton had killed his father in the raid made by the Dalton gang in Coffeyville, Kas., about seventeen years ago. Brown’s father was a shoemaker in the little village and was one of the men killed in opposing the bandits. Emmett, the younger of the Dalton boys, was released from the Kansas penitentiary after serving part of a life term.

In the last two weeks Dalton has been in jail several times on charges of intoxication. On his fourth appearance he pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Judge Laughlin to pay a fine of $30. Dalton couldn’t pay the fine, but was quoted in a newspaper here as saying that the jail was worse than the Kansas penitentiary.

Brown read the story and went to the police station with the intention of paying the fine. He told of his fifteen years resolve to kill Dalton on sight and of his change of heart. Dalton shed tears when told of the incident. He said he knew that a shoemaker had been killed in the raid but had forgotten his name.

Kansas City Star, Aug. 26, 1913: TOPEKA, Aug. 26. - Emmett Dalton, who was fined $25 for drunkenness in Joplin, Mo., was granted a commutation of his life sentence by Governor Hoch November 2, 1907. It is the same as a pardon and Dalton cannot be returned to prison. Governor Hoch wanted to return him several years ago because of Dalton’s drunken sprees at Bartlesville, and asked the attorney general about it. Once he sent for Dalton and told him the commutation would be revoked, but Dalton laughed in the governor’s face and told him to go climb a tree. The commutation could not be revoked, and Dalton knew Hoch was bluffing.

Emmett was once arrested for public drunkenness at Bartlesville. There were no “drunken sprees”, and I have a feeling the writer confused Hoch, who was not the governor at that time (1910), with Governor Stubbs. It would have been pointless to ask the attorney general as Stubbs had already done so in connection with his moving pictures. Ex-governor Hoch probably did not even know about the incident at Bartlesville as it was not widely reported.

However, Thomas A. McNeal (he had met Emmett in Topeka in 1907), in his book When Kansas Was Young (1922), wrote the following: “...Then came rumors of disgraceful domestic brawls, of dissipation and disreputable episodes. How much truth there was in these rumors I cannot say. They may have been very much exaggerated, for it is true now as always that the way of the transgressor is hard and the man who has spent years within prison walls as a convict, walks ever after in the shadow of his crime with suspicion dogging his footsteps."

It is clear Emmett had some problems, although I have found only two instances of him appearing intoxicated. It is also clear that he managed to sort himself out. Frank F. Latta wrote in his Dalton Gang Days: “It was obvious to me that Emmett was not a drinking man. No one who had been acquainted with him since he left prison knew of him doing any drinking.” His drinking was obviously connected to particularly troubled times.

Emmett Dalton

The Daily Advocate, Feb. 4, 1914: Something out of the ordinary happened in Victoria yesterday when Emmett Dalton, the famous ex-outlaw, and William H. Haskell, who was warden of the Kansas penitentiary when Dalton was a prisoner, met by chance for the first time since Dalton was pardoned by Governor Hoch of Kansas.

Mr. Haskell, a resident of Kansas City, is interested in the Robertson-Tuttle Land Company of this city, and came to Victoria several days ago to look after some of his investments.

Mr. and Mrs. Dalton came here yesterday to show the true life history of the Dalton boys in moving pictures at the Electra Theatre. An immense crowd saw the pictures, and during an intermission both Haskell and Dalton addressed the audience. Haskell paid high tribute to Dalton as a man, and spoke a kindly word for all men released from prison, asking that society give them a chance to regain their lost standing.

Dalton is now 43 years old. He is a fine looking fellow about six feet tall, and looks more like a society leader than an ex-outlaw. He takes great interest in politics, and is well informed regarding public affairs. He is well acquainted with Al Jennings, the ex-bandit, who is a candidate for governor of Oklahoma, and expresses the hope that Jennings would be elected. “Jennings is a good man now and a brilliant fellow and a whole lot better than the gang that is trying to defeat him,” asserted Dalton.

While in Victoria, Dalton visited the campaign headquarters of Leopold Morris, candidate for governor of Texas, and pledged Mr. Morris his support. “Morris is a sure winner,” prophesied Dalton. “I have traveled over most of the state during the last few months, and everywhere I have been I have found the masses of the people strong for the Victoria candidate. And if Morris is elected I hope he will exert every effort to find out what is wrong with the Texas penitentiary system, and if he does so he will have every assistance I can give him.”

Mr. and Mrs. Dalton left this morning for San Antonio, and will go from there to Dallas, where they are making their home.

Neither Jennings nor Morris won their campaigns.

The San Antonio Light, March 22, 1914: Austin, Tex., March 21. - Captain Ben E. Campbell of Dallas, former chairman of the prison commission, who was here today, strongly recommends the pardon of Jim Nite, the Longview bank robber, for whose liberty Emmett Dalton has interceded with the governor.

With all the false and exaggerated tales about the Dalton gang, Emmett jealously guarded his story and trusted no-one else to tell that story. In 1914 another Dalton film appeared, entitled The Dalton Boys. The story was much the same as in Emmett’s film, but it lacked in quality. Emmett promptly took out an advertisement in Moving Picture World (April 18, 1914): “This is to inform you that ‘fake’ Moving Picture Films, purporting to represent the lives of the Dalton boys are being shown throughout the country. My brothers’ pictures and mine are copyrighted. I will prosecute anyone (Theater or Individual) who shows, impersonates or attempts to do same without my or my mother’s consent.”

The Washington Post, April 16, 1914: From the St. Louis Democrat: Emmett Dalton, last of the gang of bandits who terrorized Oklahoma and Kansas twenty years ago, whose raid on two banks at Coffeyville, Kans., in one day resulted in killing of seven men, led another raid today on a local moving picture company which makes reels.

When Dalton was pardoned from the penitentiary where he was serving a life sentence he staged a moving picture reproduction of scenes of his bandit days which was produced throughout the country. Then he and his partner separated, and Dalton declares the partner took the negatives and sold them without accounting to Dalton.

A writ of replevin was issued, and Dalton, with deputies, descended upon the movie plant. When Dalton announced his identity, the manager turned over the property.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dec. 10, 1914: AUSTIN, Dec. 10. - Jim Nite, a member of the notorious Dalton band of outlaws [He never rode with the Daltons that included Emmett. The Dalton gang somehow managed to survive years after the Coffeyville raid. I read an article where someone told how the train he had been on was robbed by the Daltons. This had happened on Christmas Eve 1901!] and now serving a life sentence for alleged participation in the celebrated Longview bank robbery twenty-five years ago, is to go free.

Governor Colquitt today granted Nite a conditional pardon. Nite always has maintained his innocence, contending that while he was a member of the Dalton gang that he was not a member of the gang that robbed the bank nor a party to the murders that followed.

Emmett Dalton, the youngest and only survivor of the Dalton brothers, came to Austin several months ago and made a personal plea to Governor Colquitt for the pardon of Nite. Nite has been in prison nearly twenty-five years and said to be a model convict. He is now 42 years old.

He may have been a model prisoner like Emmett, but there the similarity ends. He was killed in 1929 while trying to rob a drug store in Tulsa.

The Washington Post, March 28, 1915: When a clerical looking gentleman walked up to the room clerk of the Raleigh last week and registered “Emmett Dalton and wife, Tulsa, Okla.,” he gave no indication whatever that he was the last surviving member of the noted band of Dalton brothers, which for years spread terror and fear among the inhabitants of Indian Territory, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas.

Tall, gaunt and looking like the trained athlete, Emmett Dalton did not object to discussing a few of his experiences with his brothers in their lawless ventures before he heard a Kansas judge sentence him to imprisonment for life for participation in the murder of four men at Coffeyville, Kans., 1892.

“I am here purely for pleasure,” he said, “and it’s the first time I have been in Washington. I am the youngest of the Dalton boys, and while there were eight of us, only three engaged in the business of getting money without working or begging for it.

“Much has been said about us in the dime novels that is untrue, for the Dalton brothers weren’t half as bad as they were painted. The truth of the matter is Bob and Grat were at one time United States deputy marshals, but though they risked their lives in their official capacities on many occasions, they were never paid for it as the marshal told them Congress had failed to to provide for their salaries. So they both quit and with myself and Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers engaged in other ’business.’ On October 5, 1892, all five of us galloped into Coffeyville, Kans., intent upon tapping two banks just as they opened.

“Dick Broadwell and I were to tackle the First National and my brothers, Bob and Grat, and Bill Powers were to hold up the C. M. Condon Bank…

“I spent fourteen and half years in Lansing prison and was pardoned by Gov. Hoch, who said the nine bankerss confined there might not prove to be good company.”

Again a little change in his story. Now he went with Broadwell and not Bob. In 1906, various papers ran John J. Kloehr’s story of the Coffeyville raid. It was another strange version, and, interestingly, he also had Emmett in the First National with Broadwell. He took part in the fight, and should have known the facts. It seems nobody in those days could tell a straight story.(Read Kloehr’s story here)

Advertisement, Charleston, West Virginia, June 1915: ROYAL THEATRE Tomorrow Only! Return Engagement. By Special Request. The true life history of the Dalton Boys in three reels. Lectured by the only living member EMMETT DALTON Showing their World-Famous Double Bank Robbery at Coffeyville, Kansas.

Charleston Mail, June 8, 1915: It is understood that Emmett Dalton, the only survivor… , has written a letter to Governor Hatfield suggesting executive clemency to the extent of commuting a death sentence to life imprisonment in favor of Mat Jarrell, who has been sentenced to hang July 9 for the killing of Silas F. Nance at Eskdale.

Dalton is opposed to the death sentence on the ground that it serves no good purpose in the interest of society, and he believes every man should have a chance for reformation.

It is said this plea is receiving consideration at the hands of the governor.

In 1915 Emmett also made a movie about the Hatfield-McCoy feud, which had started, among other things, in 1878 over the ownership of a hog and lasted till 1891, on the Kentcky and West Virginia border.

Advertisements, Kokomo, Indiana, Dec. 1915: Last of the Notorious Gang of Bandits Is at Pictureland. - Emmett Dalton, one of the notorious “Dalton Boys” who terrorized Kansas and Oklahoma twenty years ago, is at Pictureland theatre today with a special motion picture feature film called “The Hatfield-McCoy Feud,” in which an effort is made to reproduce the days of sudden death in the southwest.

Pictureland - - - Monday THE TRUE LIFE HISTORY OF THE DALTON BOYS In 3 reels Nothing to mislead the young or repel the old.

Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Jan. 3, 1916: Emmett Dalton, who is the feature attraction playing to capacity business at the Star theater, will continue until Wednesday night. Many people commented favorably on Mr. Dalton’s lecture to the young men.

His pictures are an exact reproduction of their world famous “Double Bank Robbery” at Coffeyville, Kan., October 5, 1892. Mr. Dalton does not attempt to glorify crime in his lecture and many ladies can be seen wiping their eyes when the mother of the Dalton boys appears, decorating the graves of her sons who are buried at Coffeyville, Kan., and hear Emmett Dalton explain this - the saddest of all scenes.

Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Jan. 9, 1916: To-day the Star theatre has a double feature program. The Dalton boys in three reels with Emmett Dalton, the only living member of the Dalton “gang,” lecturing on their lives.

Emmett Dalton is said to be the most noted ex-outlaw living and his explanation of the reels while their double bank robbery is on the screen is said to be almost perfect.

In the Hatfield-McCoy feud of West Virgina and Kentucky, Old Devil Anse Hatfield, who is an uncle of the governor of West Virginia, is seen as the leader of one of the most noted feuds in the world’s history. Grandpa Hatfield, as Devil Anse is known in West Virginia, is now 76 years old, very wealthy and highly respected by all who know him. It is said that Emmett Dalton is the first person who ever had the nerve (gall as he calls it) to go right into this hotbed of feudists and get both factions to work in a picture.

Mr. Dalton says he examined all guns before the sham battles came off for fear some of the feudists might think he saw a chance to “get even” and slip in a real bullet in his gun.

After the picture was completed Mr. Dalton took all the feudists in the theatre and showed them how they had been acting for the last twenty years and he says they were as tickled as children.

The Janesville Daily Gazette, May 29, 1916: …and declares he is now leading the straight and narrow path. He looks it , too. He is at the head of an enterprise which will show the exploits of the Dalton boys in moving pictures at the Myers theatre tomorrow and Wednesday. Mr. Dalton gives a lecture as the pictures are presented.

The former bandit has given out interviews in which he expresses his confidence in the efforts of old-time crooks to be on the square. He is credited with declairing that ignorance is the foundation of all sin and crime. In his lecture he says, he points out the cause of the downfall of so many men.

Mr. Dalton is not yet forty-four years of age. Fourteen years’ imprisonment has not marred his youthful appearance.

Emmett Dalton

The Stevens Point Daily Journal, June 24, 1916: A clean shaven, well dressed, pleasant appearing man about forty-six years of age, nearly or quite six feet tall and well proportioned, stepped into the Journal office. “Are you the editor?” he asked, to which we answered in the affirmative. But if we had lived in the great and wooly southwest in the early 90’s, and had happened to have any money about us, our answer no doubt would have been attended with many misgivings and considerable trepidation - for “I am Emmett Dalton,” he said with a smile.

Mr. Dalton, who appeared at the Empire Sunday evening, is the youngest of three brothers whose exploits in the Indian Territory, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas in the early 90’s have furnished many true and thrilling newspaper and other stories. Two of his brothers, Bob and Grat, were formely deputy United States marshals and on several occasions, it is said, risked their lives in the discharge of their duties in the then lawless southwest. For this service, their brother said, they were not paid, the marshal telling them congress had not provided for their pay. This made them “sore.” They quit the service of the government and with their youngest brother, Emmett, and Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers became “road agents.” The result was that the “Dalton gang” became a terror in the states and territories above named. But all things must have an ending and the end of Bob and Grat Dalton and Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers came at Coffeyville, Kansas.

In describing the raid on the banks at Coffeyville Emmett Dalton said: “On October 5, 1892, all five of us galloped into Coffeyville intent upon relieving the two banks there of their surplus cash. Dick Broadwell and I went to attack the First National and my brothers Bob and Grat and Bill Powers were to hold up the C. M. Condon bank…

“Ignorance,” declared Emmett Dalton, “is the cause of most sin and crime. The principal reason for many men’s downfall is their drink habits and the craving for foolish pleasures and excitement.”

This Coffeyville story told by Emmett is the same, almost word for word, he told to the Washington Post in March 1915. He had added that after the others had been killed he “stood off the crowd as long as I could but finally fell.” And did not mention any bankers in Lansing prison. So he did not speak spontaneously to the reporters but had his story, or different variations of it, ready scripted (for his lectures?). It could be that it was easier to prattle off familiar lines, repeated hundreds of times, rather than actually talk about the incident which had caused him so much pain. But it does give rather a superficial feel to his comments.

The Decatur Review, Sept. 27, 1916: “Tell the merchants to lock their safes tightly tonight because I’m in town,” said Emmett Dalton of Bartlesville, Okla., Wednesday noon. Dalton was formerly a member of the noted Dalton band of train and bank robbers which operated in the west fifteen or twenty years ago.

Dalton is appearing at the Crystal theater Thursday and Friday, lecturing on his former escapades and showing motion pictures.

The Miami Herald, Feb. 22, 1917: One wouldn’t think, to look at a handsome man of forty-six years now in Miami, that he is the sole survivor of the once famous Dalton gang of western bandits and bank robbers.

“Emmett Dalton, gentleman,” is the way his friends now refer to him, since he has paid the penalty for his infractions of law and is spending his time in advising Young America not to emulate his example.

Dalton arrived in Miami accompanied by his wife, and on Friday afternoon and night, at the Fotosho, he will lecture while the three-reel pictures of operations of the Dalton Gang are being shown on the curtain.

“This is our first visit to Miami,” said Mr. Dalton to a representative of the Herald. “It is wonderful. My wife and I shall improve the opportunity to get around to various points of interest while here, but it will not be necessary for citizens to keep their valuables hidden.”

In proof of this latter assertion he showed letters, one from a noted educator, thanking him for his lecture delivered to boys of a school.

It will be remembered that the bank at Coffeyville… As stated, he is now forty-six years of age, and looks less like a bandit than - well, than most any male citizen of Miami, it might be said with a smile while saying it.

“I like Florida so well,” said Mr. Dalton, “that I have put a small piece of money into ten acres in the state, not far from Miami. It may be that the time will come when I want to locate here. At present my greatest land interest is a western ranch, which demands most of my attention.”

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Dalton is in Oklahoma, but they seldom see it now. The former outlaw is writing a book, which may be published in the near future.

When Dalton talks to audiences he relates that crime is a losing game, and as he and his brothers were, years ago, in the class of Jesse James and Rube Burroughs it would seem that he speaks from intimate knowledge of the subject.

That he also visited schools to preach his message against crime, shows that it was important for him. At the same time one gets a feeling that he was still trying prove himself a “good” man.

Emmett and Julia Dalton in Florida

Emmett (marked with an x) and Julia in Florida

Columbus Enquirer-Sun, March 16, 1917: …Emmett looks the age of 46, but at that is a big, bluff, good natured fellow, not averse in referring to his earlier life, on which he takes occasion to remark that “the life of the bandit does not pay.”

…Dalton’s lecture has been favorably commented on from coast to coast, and at the present time he is making his first final trip through this section of the south, having previously visited Florida and Georgia towns and cities, where his program has been well received.

The Charlotte Observer, May 1, 1917: Back in the eighties or even the early nineties, the simple announcement that one of the “Dalton gang” was in town would have caused every bank cashier in the Queen City to tremble for the safety of his strong box. …One of the Dalton gang came to the city Monday. Such has been the change in Emmett Dalton in the past quarter century, however, that he does not come with a smoking six-shooter, with ulterior motives toward Charlotte vaults, but in the role of a lecturer. …

Emmett Dalton is now 44 years old and bears little outward evidence either of the desperate adventures of his younger days or his long period of confinement in the penitentiary. After a short time spent in the mercantile business, following his release, he entered upon the lecture platform and has also recently completed a series of articles dealing with the Dalton gang exploits, which will be syndicated to a number of the leading newspapers in the country.

Emmett had also completed his first book Beyond the Law, but was having problems getting it published. On July 3, 1917, he wrote a letter from New York, where he was with Julia, to William H. Frank of Philadelphia which included this: “Just a line or two to let you know we are here yet and have not forgotten you yetx I am puting in most of my time interviewing magazine & book publishers Just nowx They all say my story is a dinger but want to wait a month or two to see if the price of paper wont go down but I think they don’t want to pay my price  … However, it will keep until I do get my price or publish & picture it myself…”

Fort Wayne Journal, Sept. 15, 1917: …To-day still under fifty, the erstwhile bandit is a genial, well-reputed man of business, temporarily on a visit to New York, and willing to talk of his regeneration if it can help others.

…Emmett Dalton recovered, was tried and convicted, and after serving fourteen years was pardoned. And that is the man who is in New York to-day on legitimate business of his own - a quiet, likeable, reputable citizen.

There is hardly any trace of his former life upon him. He looks slightly heavy for a horseman, and too genial, frank and friendly ever to have been the man that once he really was. His black hair is shot with gray, his face is as smooth and good-natured as a boy’s, and his light gray eyes are quiet and thoughtful. Yet there is something about him - his low, musical Southwestern drawl, his large hands, his powerful frame, his cool, direct gaze, that makes one aware he would be a bad man if driven into a corner.

…While reticent about his life as a bandit, Dalton will talk at length on the futility of attempting to grow rich by crime.

“When once a man has stepped over the at times indistinct line that divides right from wrong,” he says, “there is no come-back. From that time on his life is not that of a man but of a hunted animal. He trusts no one - not even his boon companions. He knows they may buy immunity by betraying him.

“What few friends he has, who are not outlaws, are not really friends but blackmailers. If they give him shelter or aid, they expect payment for it. They will ask for a loan of several hundred dollars to pay off a mortgage, rebuild a barn, or send their children to school. The bandit dares not to refuse, for he may have need of their services again. He realizes they will never repay him. And they know it, too. They consider that he got the money by violence, that he will be killed eventually anyway, so there is no need to worry about making good the “loan.”

“And such an end generally does come to him, as it did to us at Coffeyville; suddenly and violently, with a dishonorable grave as a final memorial.”

Emmett’s book got published in 1918. In the preface he states that “every statement herein contained, regarding myself and brothers, is absolutely true in every detail…” Well, that for starters is not true. Even though he had previously admitted that they accepted bribes as officers, this is not mentioned. Their “first crime” has changed from horse stealing to holding up a crooked game of monte (which changed into roulette in his film Beyond the Law and into faro in his second book) in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Nancy Samuelson had not found any records in Santa Rosa of such an incident having taken place. And now suddenly Emmett comes up with the story that they had been falsely accused of train robbery in California, this directly causing them to become train robbers for real. Although he did not offer this as a justification for their actions, it looks like he was seeking some sympathy from the public for the Daltons. No doubt the wildly exaggerated stories about them had something to do with this. He also claimed he had not even been in California at that time, but all the same: “From the time in the yard at Bill’s ranch in California that we learned we were suspected of the Alila hold up, until the last ghastly minute on the street in Coffeyville, there was hardly an hour that I did not know where my brother Bob was.” Lit Dalton talked extensively to writer and historian Frank Latta after the death of Emmett. While most of what he said can be dismissed as stories of a very bitter old man with an ax to grind, he may have been right when he said that Emmett had thought he had shot and killed fireman Radcliff at Alila. This would go a long way to explain Emmett's total dissociation from California and the Alila robbery. He still had a reluctance to admitting he took part in any robberies before the Coffeyville raid. In the book he stayed with the horses while “the boys” robbed the trains. He has no romantic adventures with Julia, but Euginia Moore is introduced as Bob’s sweetheart. She gathered information about money shipments but other than that she was mainly just told by Bob to go here or there and wait to hear from him.

Cover of the Wide World magazine

An adaption of this story of the Daltons appeared serialized in the Wide World magazine and newspapers carried condenced versions of it. Now all that remained was to make a movie of it, and this he set out to do.

(The Daltons had mortgaged their Bartlesville house for $2,500 in 1911. In January 1916 the Standard Savings and Loan Association claimed they were 15 months behind in payments and sued for forclosure. In July the courts gave them six months to pay the money, or the house would be sold at Sheriff's sale. The house was sold in March, 1917. I have no knowledge what happened to their other properties in and around Bartlesville.)

In 1918 Emmett and Julia headed for Gastonia, North Carolina, where Emmett became the secretary and general manager for a new motion picture company, the Southern Feature Film Corporation.(This informatiom was found, and kindly passed on to me, by Brenda Faye Dalton Craig)

Gastonia Gazette, May 10, 1918: Emmet Dalton, the only surviving member of the famous Dalton Gang, which terrorized sections of the West a few years ago, was in Gastonia yesterday and Gastonians will be interested to know that he is to make Gastonia his headquarters in the future. Dalton is now a perfectly harmless motion picture producer and comes to Gastonia as secretary and general manager of the Southern Feature Film Corporation.

Promotional ad in the Gastonia Gazette, May 15, 1918.

Gastonia Gazette, June 24, 1918: Mr. Emmett Dalton of the Southern Feature Film Corporation, left Saturday night for New York on business. While away Mr. Dalton will engage directors and actors and expects to begin making pictures in Gastonia within the next two or three weeks.

Beyond the Law was made in seven reels, directed by Theodor Marston with Emmett supervising. Emmett played the parts of himself, Bob, and Frank Dalton, with Harris Gordon playing the part of young Emmett. Now also Emmett had a sweetheart, Ruth Lake (played by Virginia Lee), who with his mother (Ida Pardee) worked for his release from prison. Beyond the Law was released on November 26, 1918. This may have been the first and only film released by the Southern Feature Film Corporation, and in 1919 Emmett could be found settled in Los Angeles.


Moving Picture World, Dec. 14, 1918:...The production is not one which we will criticise as a bit of dramatic fiction, nor as a film intended to meet the highest standards of artistic picture craft. On the contrary, we view each scene of the pictured narrative with the same eager anticipation of coming events as the small boy feels for his story-book heroes. And at the same time there are no glaring miscalculations evident in the making of the picture. The author moves easily and without evident effort on his part to drive home facts which stand for themselves in the dramatic situations which naturally evolve from the chain of thrilling events subscribed.

Emmett had frankly stated that he didn't consider this film an artistic masterpiece, but that an attempt had been made to present the unusual incidents without flourish. The picture failed to get accepted as the production company had put too high a price on it. Finally it made the theaters in the spring of 1919. Again Emmett went on the road with the movie, lecturing at the theaters.

Advertisement, The Charlotte Observer, March 3, 1919: Emmett Dalton (The One-Time Famous Outlaw, But Now a Moving Picture Star) IN PERSON, also in picture “Beyond the Law” In this beautiful love story written by and featuring Mr. Dalton, will also be seen the beautiful star VIRGINIA LEE and little BOBBY CONNELLY The first historical picture to feature an original character. Mr. Emmett Dalton (himself) will personally deliver a short lecture at each performance.

New York did not seem overly enthusiastic about Emmett's film.

Variety, April 11, 1919: Outside of the theatre was ample billing setting forth that a double feature bill was being presented in addition to other film features of short reel lenght, and also that Emmett Dalton would appear at each performance and describe in person the actual happenings that occurred in the lives of the famous band of outlaws. But even all of this failed to attract capacity.

...As a picture, from a purely picture standpoint, it carries nothing that makes it worthwhile playing unless the exhibitor is playing to an exeedingly low-browed audience that is principally foreign in its ideas and still harbors the delight of the personal vendetta. For the average picture audience it holds nothing that will either interest or amuse.

Bridgeport Standard Telegram, Aug. 1, 1919: Those bandit chaps aren't such a bad lot when you get to know them - especially after they've reformed. The gentle reader may accept this statement on the word of a large proportion of the staff of The Standard Telegram who last night came face to face with Emmet Dalton, sole survivor of the famous " “Dalton Boys.”

The reformed desperado doesn't look the part a bit. He's a great big fellow well over six feet and weighing about 200 pounds. He is soft spoken and can trot out a very gracious smile when required. He dresses just like the ordinary business man - and that's just what he is nowadays.

When he was presented to the staff last evening the copy boys union ordered a general strike. Information was expected by them of the inside facts of the famous Coffeyville bank robbery, where two of the Dalton boys and two of their gang were killed. But Dalton didn't talk about that. He merely wanted to say hello to the folks - it's his first trip East - and to mention, incidentally, his picture “Beyond the Law” which is at Poll's.

The (Ada) Evening News, Nov. 8, 1919: LOS ANGELES, Nov. 8. - There are only few of them left and two of the most noted met in this city recently. Emmett Dalton, ex-bandit, and Al Jennings, who used to make them stand and deliver.

They held up their heads as they looked into each other’s eyes - for both have paid the price - and each knew that the other had forgotten his long gray yesterday behind prison walls because today is so glorious.

They hadn’t talked more than a half a minute before both found a common ground; they have no use for banditry but they denounced profiteering as a worse crime than robbing banks. And Dalton added “crooked politics.”

The meeting occurred in Jennings’ office, South Hollywood, where he has a studio. Dalton is president of two motion picture corporations [one of them being Standard Pictures of California Inc.]. In appearance they are opposite, but their careers have been strikingly similar. It is perhaps logical, however, that both have become moving picture magnates; in their youth they adopted what looked to be the most lucrative profession and now - but why finish when the conclusion is so obvious.

Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Dalton after he had robbed a bank in Coffeyville, Kas., and his four companions had been shot. He served fourteen years and was pardoned.

It had been twelve years since the two most noted ex-bandits had met and they have had time to do a lot of forgetting, which they have done by doing a lot of accomplishing.

In truth, Al Jennings had a very short career in Oklahoma during 1897 as one of the most unsuccessful outlaws . He was freed from prison on technicalities in 1902 and became involved in politics before moving to California, where he made westerns telling much exaggerated tales of his past.

Kansas City Times, Nov. 23, 1919: Emmett Dalton, bandit and train robber, stopped shooting people a long time ago. Instead of that, he has taken to “shooting” pictures.

Emmett Dalton, movie magnate, came to Kansas City yesterday. To look at him, nobody would think he was ever a desperado. A tall man, brawny in the shoulders, but a peaceful, mobile face and a kindly eye, he talks regretfully of his past.

Yet, on the ashes of his past he is building his success today. For the biggest of his movie productions, a seven-reeler entitled “Beyond the Law,” depicts incidents of his bandit days. Emmett, the last of four brothers, plays the bandit parts.

“I don’t glorify my past in this picture,” he said. “The story points out a moral. If anything in my sordid history can be made into a lesson for the youth of the land, I shall be glad. That is the idea which caused me to make this picture.”

Emmett also made and acted in several two-reel pictures like When a Man’s a Pal, Across the Chasm, Showdown Jim and The Man of the Desert. Apparently these were based on real incidents in his life. They went round the theaters for a number of years as secondary features.

Advertisement, Wyoming, Dec. 1919: ‘Beyond the Law’ features EMMETT DALTON … This Seven Reel Feature Shows How That famous Gang Operated in Oklahoma and Kansas, from 1889 to 1892. Train Hold-ups - See Them rob Two banks at the Same Time - How They Lost Their Lives, All But Emmett, Who Served Fifteen Years in Prison, and was pardoned - See the Beautiful Love Story - Miss Moore’s Love for Bob Dalton, and the Price She Paid - Historically True. DON’T MISS THIS WONDERFUL PICTURE

Advertisement, Texas, March 1920: THE PICTURE SENSATION OF THE YEAR EMMETT DALTON Of the Famous Dalton Gang in Beyond the Law  7 - wonderful parts - 7  -See Emmett Dalton and his gang hold up the First State Bank of Coffeyville, Kansas. See the fight with the posse.  - See the big lobby display on exhibition in front of the theater: guns, handcuffs and other articles used by Emmett Dalton.  -See Emmett Dalton, last of the famous Dalton gang, in the daring and bold hold-up of the Kansas City Southern Railroad.  - A seven-reel feature; not a dull moment; weaved in with a pretty love story. Also the capture of Emmett Dalton and his escape for liberty.  -See Emmett Dalton of the famous outlaw gang, in his many daring episodes of his life as a notorious bandit.  -See the daring hold-up, the robbery at Sweetwater, Texas; how he foiled the law and again makes a wonderful escape.

Advertisement, Tulsa World, July 17, 1920: ROYAL THEATER Emmett Dalton
The notorious reformed outlaw in “When a Man’s a Pal” (An actual event of his life)

It has been said that Emmett’s film Beyond the Law was a flop. Actually, it toured the country for years, if not in the major cities. His acting career, though, did not take off.

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Last modified: 20 September 2018