dalton gang

While on a trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma with my sisters, Caryl Reed and Alena Stevens, we happened to drive through the little town of Coffeyville, Kansas. We noticed a sign that said Dalton Graves. I immediate thought of the Dalton Gang and looked it up on my phone. Sure enough, Coffeyville is the site of a number of graves of the Dalton Gang. I find it strange that the gang would choose Coffeyville as the town to rob two banks at the same time, because it was in Coffeyville, that their brother Frank was buried. Frank had been a Deputy US Marshall based out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. On November 27, 1887, while involved in a gunfight with an outlaw gang near the Arkansas River, Frank Dalton was shot and killed by the outlaw, Will Towerly. It’s just odd that they would disrespect Frank’s memory in that way.

Nevertheless, it was in Coffeyville, Kansas that the Dalton Gang would make what was for all of them, except Emmett Dalton, a fatal decision. The men rode into town in the early morning hours of October 5, 1892. Their plan was to tie their horses to the hitching posts in front of the bank, however, the town had wisely removed them, meaning that one member would have to hold the horses, or they would have to tie the horses to a hitching post in another part of town. Choosing the latter, the gang tied their horses in what became known as “Death Alley” and headed for the banks.

Unfortunately for the gang, one of the townspeople recognized one of the gang members as he made his way to the bank. Immediately reporting this to the local law and the rest of the town, the people were ready for the gang when they emerged from the banks. A running gun battle ensued, and in the process, four members of the Dalton gang lost their lives. Killed were Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, Bill Power, and Dick Broadwell. Emmett Dalton, the only surviving member of the gang was severely wounded and was not expected to live. Nevertheless, he recovered and served 14 years in jail before being pardoned.

Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, and Bill Powers were buried in the same plot, in the Elmwood Cemetery, and for years the only marker for their grave was the metal hitching post to which they tied their horses on that fateful day. When Emmett Dalton was released, he purchased a grave marker for the three men, but the hitching post remains to this day. Also buried in Elmwood Cemetery are the four town defenders who lost their lives in that gunfight. Those lost were Lucius Baldwin, Charles Brown, Marshal CT Connelly, and George Cubine. Needless to say, their graves received respectful stones from the very beginning, in order to rightly honor these brave men. Emmett Dalton moved to Southern California in 1907. He married Julia Johnson the following year, who survived him. During his California years, he capitalized on his notoriety…writing two books and doing some acting in Hollywood. Later, he sold real estate, as Southern California was developing rapidly with migrants from across the country. He died in 1937 at the age of sixty-six.

George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb was the first member of the infamous Dalton Gang…an outlaw gang in the Old West. Newcomb was born in 1866 near Fort Scott, Kansas. The Newcomb family was poor, and he began working as a cowboy at the age of twelve. Newcomb’s first job was on the “Long S Ranch” owned by CC Slaughter. By 1892, he had drifted into the Oklahoma Territory, where he first met Bill Doolin. Newcomb would meet up with Bill Doolin again, in a deadly way.

As a part of the Dalton Gang, Newcomb met up with Doolin and also met Charley Pierce, who were also members. The three men took part in the botched train robbery in Adair, Oklahoma Territory, on July 15, 1892. During the robbery, two guards and two townsmen, both doctors, were wounded. One of the doctors died the next day. Doolin, Newcomb, and Pierce complained that Bob was unfairly dividing the money fairly amongst the gang. They left in a huff, but later returned. It was at this point that Bob Dalton told Doolin, Newcomb, and Pierce that he no longer needed them. Dalton said that Newcomb was “too wild” for his gang, and Dalton left. Doolin and his friends returned to their hideout in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory. On October 5, in Coffeyville, Kansas, the remaining members of the Dalton Gang were killed…except Emmett who survived despite being shot 27 times. I suppose it was fortunate for Newcomb, Doolin, and Pierce that they were no longer part of the gang.

In 1893, Doolin organized his own gang from the remains of the original Dalton Gang, with Newcomb as a member, calling them the Wild Bunch. Bill Dalton later also joined the group and they became known as the Doolin-Dalton Gang. Newcomb began a romantic relationship with a 14 year old girl named Rose Dunn. She had four brothers who were outlaws and knew Newcomb. They would later become bounty hunters, calling themselves the Dunn Brothers. By 1895, Newcomb was a fugitive with a $5,000 reward on him, dead or alive. Rose Dunn traveled with him, since she could easily go into a town to purchase supplies, and no one knew that she was a part of the gang. This was the perfect plan to keep the gang hidden.

The gang often hung out in the town of Ingalls, Oklahoma. In those days, numerous outlaw gangs of the day took refuge there, and oddly, local residents often defended the outlaws and assisted in hiding them from lawmen. This was mostly due to the outlaws contributing greatly to the local economy. In one shootout with lawmen in Ingalls, called the Battle of Ingalls, three lawmen and three outlaws were shot. After several shootouts with lawmen, Newcomb fled with outlaw Charley Pierce to a hideout near Norman, Oklahoma, both of them wounded in the Ingalls shootout with US Marshals.

On May 2, 1895, Newcomb and Pierce rode up to the Dunn ranch, possibly to visit Rose. As soon as they dismounted, her brothers opened fire, dropping both outlaws. The next day, the Dunn brothers had loaded the two bodies into their wagon and were driving it into town to collect the reward, when Newcomb suddenly moaned and asked for water, to which one of the brothers responded with another bullet. I guess the bounty on their heads outweighed the friendship the Dunn Brothers had previously with the Wild Bunch.

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