Monday, April 11, 2016

Bill Dalton Wanted to Build a Gang That Would Be More Famous Than His Brothers, The Doolin-Dalton Gang Was

Body of outlaw Bill Doolin after taking
21 rounds of buckshot
The Doolin-Dalton Gang was formed from the remnants of the Dalton Gang, after their failed raid on the Coffeyville, Kansas Bank in October of 1892.

The gang consisted of Bill Dalton, Bill Doolin, George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, William “Tulsa Jack” Blake, Charley Pierce, and a negro named Israel Carr. Bill Doolin, was the acknowledged leader, but “the negro Carr was said to have killed more men than all the rest of the gang put together.” He was one mean son-of-a-bitch. Over time the gang grew to include Dan “Dynamite Dick” Clifton, “Arkansas Tom” Jones, and several others.

Bill Dalton wasn’t part of the original Dalton Gang with his brothers. Until 1892, he had led a respectable life in California, where he ranched and served two terms in the California legislature. After his brothers had been wiped out in the great Coffeyville Bank raid, Bill Dalton decided it was time to shake things up a bit. He robbed his first train outside of Los Angeles, California in 1891. In 1892, he joined Bill Doolin’s gang, and thus began a four-year reign of terror throughout Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.


Bill Doolin was something of an enigma in Oklahoma Territory. Several newspapers published stories that made him out to be a “Robin Hood” type character. Jack Dodsworth, a spy, sent to infiltrate the gang, recounted a story about a man the gang robbed. Doolin took $35 from him but asked the man what he intended to do with the money. After the man had told his story, Doolin calculated it would cost him $24.50 to accomplish his goal. Doolin gave him back $25.00, and told him the extra fifty cents was to get himself a good meal. Another newspaper article said Doolin appropriated $300 from a peddler, but gave most of it back so the man could cover the cost of his goods, and get back home comfortably.

The Cimarron bank robbery took place on June 10th, 1893. “Four masked robbers held up the California Express on the Santa Fe road” west of the Cimarron. Two men jumped onto the engine, with guns drawn, and forced the engineer to go to the express car with a sledge hammer.

The messenger refused to open the door. When arguing and shooting couldn’t convince the messenger to open the door, the gang blew it open with dynamite. The gang beat it out of there with close to $1,000.

The next morning Sheriff Byrns and his posse rode out after the gang. They were close on the gang’s trail, but could never quite catch up. The gang was spotted along the lane east of Brannon’s. At 11 am, they had dinner at John Randolph’s ranch. Randolph had no idea who they were at the time. The boys told him they were chasing a horse thief who got away.

On September 1st, 1893, Marshal Evett Dumas Nix led a posse of 27 marshals and Indian police to Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory, after they received a tip, the gang was hiding out there in a saloon owned by John Ransom.

At the first sign of trouble, “Bitter Creek” burst out of the saloon firing his Winchester at deputies. He took a bullet in the thigh but kept moving to make his getaway.

Bill Dalton. Before turning outlaw in 1891,
he was a two-time member of the California legislature.
Meanwhile, deputies kept up a murderous fire on the saloon. In the commotion, the outlaws escaped through a side door of the saloon and took shelter in a stable until they could hit the trail.

“Arkansas Tom” Jones opened fire from his hotel room window and was eventually captured. “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, Dan “Dynamite Dick” Clifton, and Charley Pierce all took bullets but managed to make their getaway. Marshal Nix reported nine persons were killed and wounded in the attack.

The Dalton-Doolin gang next raised their angry heads in Longview, Texas, on May 23rd, 1894.

“At 3 pm…two rough looking men walked into the First National Bank at Longview, Texas. One had a rifle concealed under his coat,” reported the Abbeville Press and Banner. One of the robbers, Jim Jones, handed a note to bank President Clemmens. “This will introduce you to Charles Spelemeyer,” it read, “who wants some money and is going to have it.”

As Jones handed the note to the bank President, he jammed his rifle into the man’s throat. The other man with him jumped over the counter, and grabbed roughly $2,000, stashing it in a cloth sack he’d brought with him.

Outside the bank, two other robbers were shooting it up in the alley. City Marshal Muckleroy and Deputy Marshal Will Stevens returned their fire. “Bullets flew thick and fast, and the bank men hastened around the corner with several shots flying after them.”

George Buckingham, a townsman, who joined in the fracas was shot and killed in the crossfire. Muckleroy took a ball in the abdomen. J. W. McQueen, a saloonkeeper, heard the shooting and ran out into the alley. He was shot and mortally wounded. Another citizen, Charles Leonard, was enjoying a leisurely stroll through the courthouse yard when he took a ball in his leg. It later had to be amputated.

The papers reported one of the robbers, Gene Bennett, was shot and killed. They said he was dressed like a cowboy. He wore high-heeled boots, spurs, a full cartridge belt, and carried two double action revolvers on his person. The marshals found 300 rounds of ammo packed on the saddle of his horse.

In all 200 rounds were fired in less than fifteen minutes. If the gang had an inkling of what was to come, the odds are ten times that many rounds would have been let loose in Longview.

Bill Dalton bought the farm at Gidding’s Ranch near Elk, Indian Territory, in April of 1894.

The Daily Adrmoreite, on June 9, 1894, devoted an entire page to his death.  The headline screamed, “Bill Dalton died with his boots on pistol in hand.”

The way it came about, Houston Wallace, and two women went on a wild spending spree in town, shooting nearly $200 in a very short period of time. It set off an alarm, and they were detained and questioned. The local marshal decided to check it out. He raised a posse and headed out to Houston Wallace’s ranch, arriving there about 8 am. The posse split up and began to reconnoiter the place. Things looked pretty innocent. There were just a few women and children playing in the yard.

What gave the posse away was a woman tending cattle in the yard spotted them and raced to warn Dalton. “He immediately jumped through the window in the rear of the house, thinking that was unguarded.” But, that turned out to be a big mistake. “There stood Lou Hart, true game, and a dead shot.” Hart hollered at Dalton to surrender as he ran towards the nearby woods. When Dalton reached for his pistol, Hart fired his.

When he was searched, Dalton had $325 on his person. The marshals also found a Longview Bank money sack in the house. That was proof positive Bill Dalton had pulled that job.

Bill Tilghman captured Bill Doolin at a bathhouse in Eureka Springs on January 16th, 1896. It was more of an accident than anything that was planned. He bumped into Doolin in the bathhouse, quickly overpowered him, and took him captive.

Bill Doolin later told the Guthrie Daily Leader, “I was looking for a crowd with guns. I expected to be found sooner or later – felt that I would be shot down like a dog – and intended to do my share of the shooting. Had I been sure of Tilghman when he came into the door, I would have shot him dead in a twinkle.”

Fortunately for Doolin, Tilghman didn’t feel the same way.

After his capture, Bill Doolin was jailed in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, and soon escaped in a mass jail break of sixteen prisoners.

Unfortunately for Doolin, he didn’t really think out his getaway. He went to stay with his wife at her home in Lawson, Oklahoma Territory, where she was the postmistress. According to local newspaper reports, Doolin didn’t bother to hide that he was there. He rode into town several times, and local law enforcement officials decided not to press the issue.

When Deputy Marshal Heck Thomas learned Doolin was in the area, he assigned two men to watch the house. Doolin left the house about 2 am on the morning of August 25th, 1896, armed with a Colt 45 caliber and a Winchester rifle.

He walked out of the door, and straight into the waiting posse. “The outlaw heard the command ‘HALT!’” wrote the Arizona Republican. “Then someone cried ‘Hold up your hands!’ Doolin brought his Winchester to his shoulder and fired two volleys almost as soon as the words were spoken.”

“Thomas discharged his rifle. Doolin stumbled, and as he fell forward fired off his revolver.”

When the marshals examined his body, they discovered he was hit with 21 rounds of buckshot, and a rifle shot that shattered his arm.

The headline in the Wichita Daily Eagle read, “Bill Doolin died with his boots on.”

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