Friday, July 15, 2016

The Last Raid of the Dalton Gang as Told By John J. Kloehr - The Man Who Killed Two of the Daltons

John J. Kloehr
(from The Dalton Brothers:
And Their Astounding
Career of Crime, 1893)
A Topeka correspondent writes to The Inter-Ocean that in the annals of the southwest there is no Incident so stirring, so full of bloody and dramatic feature, as the story of the last raid of the Dalton gang at Coffeyville, Wednesday, October 5, 1892, when that town was changed in an hour from a peaceful scene of commerce and pleasure, to bloodshed. The tale has been told many times, it has been made the subject of epic verse, it has furnished material for the author of the "penny dreadful," it has been told in many languages, but the author of the heroic deed that rid the world of the murdering band of criminals has never before told the story himself. This man is John J. Kloehr, Mr. Kloehr has now given his version of it, and says:

I don't like to tell this story. I have never told It before, that is, with anything like completeness.

Just a word or two about the Daltons before beginning the story of
their final raid. They were Kentuckians born and bred. They were cousins by marriage of the notorious Younger and Jameses. In them the lust of slaughter was inborn. In 1889 the Dalton family, father and mother and 18 children, among them the three who met their death here - Bob, Emmet and Grattan - came to Kansas. They settled on a farm in Montgomery county, where they remained until the opening of the territory. Then began the life of adventure that proved their undoing. First, United States deputy marshals, then train robbers, whiskey peddlers and bandits in the mountain passes of California; then, the final act, bank robbers.

On October 4, 1892, five men, Tim Evans, or Powers, Grant Dalton, Bob
Dalton, Emmett Dalton and Dick Broadwell, the last having been enlisted in the scheme a day or two before, rode up from the Indian Territory from that part known as the Cherokee nation.

They passed the night hiding in the wooded fastnesses along the banks of the Verdigris river on which this town stands. Early on the morning of the 6th they took up their Journey again, their blooded horses refreshed by rest and food.

For miles they followed one of the main roads into Coffeyville, the road
that becomes Eighth street when it enters the town.

As they neared the town they were noticed by many people riding to and
from the city. The Daltons, who were of course, well known in Coffeyville, were disguised by false beards and other means. Long cloaks concealed their weapons - Winchester rifles and heavy Colt's revolvers. They looked as they Intended, like a party of United States deputy marshals riding into the state on official business. This was an occurrence too common to excite wonderment or remark.

As they rode up Eighth street many eyes were turned upon them, but without arousing the slightest suspicion. It was evidently their intention to tie their horses on Eighth street, where they would be readily accessible when the need to flee came. However, the street was torn up, pending certain repairs, making this impossible. An alley running directly off the main street attracted their attention. They turned down it, the only false move they had made thus far, and tied their horses on a paling back of my livery stable. Then in single file they emerged from the alley, their long coats removed, their spurs clanking, their guns swinging at their sides.

Three of them, Bob and Gratton Dalton and Powers, entered the Condon National bank, and, covering the cashier with their Winchesters, commanded him to open the vault. Grat hurried around behind the iron screen that partitioned the vaults and the business part of the bank from the front, and opening a heavy grain sack commanded one of the three clerks to pour into it all the cash in sight. That done, he, with a fierce oath, commanded the cashier to open the vault and get the gold.

"I can't,” replied the cashier. “The time lock is on the vault.”

"What time will It open?”

"'At 9:30,” returned the cashier. The time was only a guess on his part.
It was after 10 o'clock then, but Grat bit at the desperate expedient to gain time. 

"We'll wait," he announced.

Dead bodies of Bob and Grat Dalton
(from The Dalton Brothers: And Their Astounding 
Career of Crime, 1893)
All this time the citizens were not idle. So completely by surprise had the assault on the bank been that no one was in the least prepared. Even the town marshal, Frank Connelly, was unarmed. The first intimation that I had of the affair was when someone ran into the stable shouting that Condon's bank was being robbed. I had no weapon in the barn, but, running across the street to a hardware store, I fitted myself out with a “small” Winchester, the first thing that I came upon. Stationing myself on the street, I began to fire on the Condon bank, hoping to frustrate the plans of the bandits.

In this I was soon joined by others who hurriedly procured weapons from the hardware stores. The plate glass windows of the bank were riddled and the bank people narrowly escaped death from the flying bullets, but the, effect of the fusillade was to make the robbers chary of staying too long in the bunk. In the grain sack was about $4000 in silver and greenbacks. The silver was discarded. Grat Dalton stuffing the paper money into his coat.

Then they made their way to the rear doors of the bank, driving the cashier and his assistants before them. When they swung open the door they were confronted by George Baldwin, 23 years old, as brave and noble a lad as ever breathed. In his hand he held a pistol, a toy compared to the weapons carried by the robbers.

“I'll have to get that man,” said Bob Dalton, and raising his fatal Winchester to his shoulder, he fired, and Baldwin fell to the ground mortally wounded.

At the other bank, the First National, a similar scene was enacted. The cashier and other in the bank. were made to hold up their hands and the contents of the vault were emptied into a sack. Here, too, the fire from the people became too severe and they were forced to discard the heavy silver for the lighter and more valuable gold and paper.

Charles Gumy, another of the bravest men this or any other town has ever known, opened fire on the bank, but was mortally wounded by a shot from one of the robbers that splintered the stock of his gun and smashed his right hand into a mass of raw flesh. Friends rushed out to him and dragged him within the shelter of the store.

Broadwell, Grat, Bob, and Powers
(from The Dalton Brothers: And Their Astounding 
Career of Crime, 1893)
After leaving the First National Emmet Dalton and Dick Broadwell passed down Eighth street, where they were joined by the three from the Condon bank. There in front of his shoe shop stood George Cubine, gun in hand, waiting for them. Two shots rang out simultaneously and Cubine fell back dead. Charles Brown, a fellow workman of Cubine's saw him fall and ran out to help him. Again the deadly rifles of the bandits spoke out and Brown fell a martyr to right and the ties of comradeship.

Passing down Union street, after killing Cubine and Brown, the five bandits espied Thomas Ayres, cashier of the First National Bank, standing by the curb with a rifle in his hands. Bob Dalton's rifle rang out and Ayres fell, wounded in the head, although the distance was more than 75 yards.

Bob and Emmett then hurriedly dodged behind buildings and were not
seen again until they appeared in the alley where their horses were tied. Grat Dalton and his companions, Powers and Broadwell, regained the shelter of the alley first.

In the alley was standing a Standard Oil tank, to which a magnificent team of grays was hitched. Using the wagon for a breastwork, the three
bandits prepared to deal death to all who should care try to dislodge them.

All this time I was so to speak, mounting guard over the horses. I
saw Grat and his companions take up their position behind the wagon and I determined to wait until the most auspicious moment came before attempting to do anything. Just at this moment Bob and Emmett came down the alley from the other way, making for their horses. As I saw them they saw me. We had often competed in friendly shooting matches. He knew that when I fired I shot to kill.

"Hell!” he exclaimed; “there's Kloehr. I hate to do It, but he's got
to fall.' For a moment I was transfixed, watching his face intently as the bird watches the snake about to seize it. Then instinctively my own rifle came to my shoulder. I fired Just as Bob pulled the trigger. His bullet went wild, glancingly striking the side of the alley, taking a tangent course, and killing both the Standard Oil horses and entering my barn, where it demolished a buggy wheel. But Bob, poor chap, lay in the alley, shot through the breast. Emmett fired at me and I returned the shot. He was wounded, I could see that, but he kept steadily on.

His companions behind the oil wagon now opened up on me. I had no time to care for Emmett. Skirting the alley paling until he came to a breach, he crawled through and away.

Grat Dalton, Powell and Broadwell kept up a galling fire on me. I was not hit. Some way I felt exalted, lifted above everything on the earth. I did not fear their bullets; it seemed as though I were invulnerable.

Finally, Grat exposed himself. I shot him. Then, seized with sudden
terror, Powers and Broadwell made a sudden rush for their horses. Before they could mount I had hit them, too, but Broadwell, exerting superhuman effort, dragged himself into the saddle and rode off. His body was found later beside a hedge a mile from town.

Emmett, who had made his way to a lumber pile now reappeared in the alley, obviously trying to reach his horse, I shot him again. He had enough and surrendered, and is still doing time at Fort Leavenworth

(Excerpted from the East Oregonian (Pendleton, Oregon), October 9, 1906)

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