I guess it would be popular
or romantic to say that the Dalton brothers were driven to a life of crime,
the fact is they grew up during wild times in a wild place. They were
raised on the border of Indian Territory, near Coffeyville, KS.
For a short time they served on the side of the law, working as Deputy
Marshals. Their older brother, Frank Dalton, was commissioned a Deputy
Marshal for the federal court in Fort Smith. On Nov. 27, 1887 in a gun
battle with the with the Smith-Dixon Gang, Frank Dalton was shot and killed.
Grat Dalton, who had moved to California along with their brother Bill,
returned to Indian Territory, and took up were his brother left off. Working
as a deputy he received a bullet wound in the arm while attempting to
arrest one suspect, and in 1889 he was commissioned a deputy marshal for
the Muskogee court.
Bob Dalton was a deputy marshal for the federal court in Kansas in Wichita,
working out in the Osage Nation. He also served on several of his brother
Emmett Dalton also worked as member of some of his brothers posses, but
for the most part he earned a living as a cowboy working on the Bar X
Bar Ranch near the Pawnee Agency. It was on the ranch that Emmett would
meet two of the Gang's members, Bill Doolin and William St. Power, alias
Bill Powers, alias Tom Evans.
Not much is known about Bill Power other than he drifted in to the Territories
from Texas with a trail herd from the Pecos.
While working at the Bar X Bar, Emmett became acquainted with the cowboys
and future Gang members working on the ranches nearby. They were Charlie
Pierce, George Newcomb, Charlie Bryant, and Richard (Dick) Broadwell,
alias Texas Jack alias John Moore.
Dick Broadwell came from a prominent family near Hutchinson, Ks. At the
opening of Oklahoma Territory he staked a claim to a homestead in the
Cowboy Flats area. He met and fell in love with the young lady who owned
the homestead next to his and asked her to marry him. She agreed and persuaded
him to sell both claims and move with her to Fort Worth, TX, where she
disappeared with the money. He returned to the territories and started
work on the ranches.
Charlie Pierce hailed from the Blue River country in Missouri. He fled
to the Indian Nation to avoid trouble in Missouri, and settled in the
Pawnee country. He spent time in the Fort Smith jail for whiskey peddling.
George Newcomb, known as Bitter Creek Newcomb, came from Fort Scott, KS.
At the age of twelve Newcomb started his career as a cowboy working for
C. C. Slaughter on the Long S Ranch in Texas. He later drifted into the
Charlie Bryant came from Wise County, Texas. He had a black mark on his
cheek from a powder burn that earned him his nickname Black-Faced Charlie.
While serving as head of the Osage police, Bob Dalton was accused of selling
whiskey. Grat Dalton also got into trouble about the same time and was
dismissed as deputy marshal for conduct unbecoming an officer. Although
they were not deputy marshals they still worked as posse men for other
deputy marshals. However pay was slow in coming.
Then in July of 1890 Bob, Grat, and Emmett were accused of stealing horses
near Claremore I. T. and selling them in Kansas. With a posse hot on their
trail, Bob and Emmett left the territories for California. Brother Grat
was arrested and placed in jail. He was later released for lack of evidence.
He too would leave the territories and go to California to join his brothers.
In California the boys would join their brother Bill and events would
soon have them fleeing the law again. On the night of February 6th, 1891
the Southern Pacific RR train was robbed at Alila, CA. The Dalton boys
were accused. Once again Bob and Emmett were fleeing the state with a
posse after them. Grat and Bill was arrested.
Bob and Emmett made their way back to the territories, but the law was
after them and making things hot for the boys. While hiding out in the
Indian Nations the boys hooked up with Emmett's old ranching buddies Charlie
Bryant, Bitter Creek Newcomb, to rob the train at Wharton, O.T. in May
of 1891. The gang made off with $1745 of the railroads money.
Shortly after the Wharton robbery, Charlie Bryant became ill and was taken
to the doctor in Hennessey, O.T.. Deputy Marshal Ed Short saw Bryant when
he was brought into town and arrested him in the hotel as he was recovering
from his illness. There was no jail in Hennessey so the marshal was taking
his prisoner by train to the federal jail in Wichita. During the trip
Bryant made a desperate attempt to escape. He secured a pistol and in
a blazing shoot-out with the marshal, both men died from shots received
from the other.
The Gang's next robbery was the Katy train at Leliaetta, near Wagoner
I. T.. With Bob and Emmett, were Bitter Creek Newcomb, Bill Powers, Dick
Broadwell, Charlie Pierce, and Bill Doolin. On the night of September
15, 1891 they stop and boarded the train, and robbed the express car of
Meanwhile in California, on July 3, 1891, a jury found Grat Dalton guilty
of the Alila train robbery. While awaiting sentence, Grat escaped from
jail on Sept. 18 and made his way back to Oklahoma. He promptly joined
up with his brothers.
At the end of May in 1892 the three Dalton boys teemed up with Pierce,
Newcomb, Powers, Broadwell, and Doolin for another train holdup. On June
1, 1892 at the train station at Red Rock, they position themselves and
awaited the approaching train. When the train entered the station the
train coaches were dark, the gang sensing something was wrong allowed
to leave the station unmolested. Suddenly a second train appeared and
as it stopped at the station the gang boarded it and proceeded to rob
it. As it turned out the gang was correct in their suspicion, the first
train was full of armed guards protecting $70,000 of the Sac and Fox annuity.
Unfortunately the second train had little of value on it and the gang
only made off with $50.
On July 14, 1892 the gang made its last train robbery at Adair I. T..
Once again the train was loaded with deputies, but the gang was so quick
and quite with their work that the marshals didn't realized the train
was being rob until the job was almost completed. Unloading from the train
the marshals engaged in a fierce but brief gun battle with the bandits.
During the battle an innocent bystander was killed and another one wounded.
the bandits would escape unharmed with an undisclosed amount of cash.
After the Adair robbery the Gang split up and went their own ways. With
the law on their trail, the Dalton boys figured to make one last robbery
and get enough money to leave the country. A plan was devised to rob two
banks in the same town at the same time, thus getting enough money to
leave the country, and also go down in history by accomplishing something
that no other outlaw gang had ever attempted. The perfect town for the
robbery was Coffeyville, KS, the Dalton boys old home town.
Early in the morning on Oct. 5 1892 five members of the gang, Bob, Grat,
Emmett, Bill Power, and Dick Broadwell rode into Coffeyville. They tied
their horses in the alley across from the banks, then strolled across
the street and divided into two groups and enter the Condon National Bank
and First National Bank. However they were recognized by citizens and
the alarm was given. Townsmen quick armed themselves with weapons from
the local hardware stores and took up positions to defend the town. As
the bandits tried to make good their escape a fierce gun battle took place
in which four citizens and four bandits loss their life. Emmett, the sole
surviving member of the gang, was seriously wounded. He would recover
from his wounds and stood trial for the crime. He was sentenced to life
in prison, but was later pardon by the governor, and spent the rest of
his days in California.
But Coffeyville didn't put an end to the Dalton Gang. There was still
three members of the old gang still at large, Bill Doolin, Bitter Creek
Newcomb, and Charlie Pierce. Also there was a fourth Dalton boy, Bill
Dalton, who would travel the outlaw path. He would soon join his brothers
old partners and together they would terrorize the territories for years
to come as the infamous Doolin-Dalton Gang. But that's another story.