Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch

Bill Doolin
There were at least two outlaw gangs that used the moniker the "Wild Bunch." And believe it or not, both operated within a few years of each other in two completely different regions of the country.

Today, most think of the "Wild Bunch" as the movie by that name. The movie "The Wild Bunch" was a 1969 film which starred the famous William Holden.

In 1969, the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" also came out. Butch Cassidy was supposedly the leader of an outlaw gang called the "Wild Bunch." That gang was a loose outlaw gang that operated out of the Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming.

You may be surprised to find out that Butch Cassidy's gang was not the original Wild Bunch. That distinction actually goes to Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch. It's true. While Butch Cassidy's gang operated for about two years from 1899 to 1901 in Northern Wyoming, the first outlaw gang known as the "Wild Bunch" came on the scene years earlier. That was outlaw Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch. They operated from ‎1892 to 1895 in the Oklahoma Territory.

When compared to Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch up in Wyoming, Bill Doolin's gang was much more violent and ruthless when it came to killing lawmen and citizen alike. In fact, some say the Wild Bunch up in Wyoming was down right tame in comparison.

So who was Bill Doolin?


William "Bill" Doolin was born sometime in 1858 in Johnson County, Arkansas, the son of Michael and Artemina Beller Doolin. He started out on the right side of the law when he left home in 1881. He worked as a cowboy in the Indian Territory when he was hired by cattleman Oscar D. Halsell. During that time, he worked with other noted cowboys and outlaws of the day, such as Dick Broadwell, Bill "Tulsa Jack" Blake, Dan "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, Bill Power, Charley Pierce, George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, and Emmett Dalton.
Sadly, he went from cowboy to highwayman, bandit, the man who founded the Wild Bunch. Like him, his outlaw gang specialized in robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas during the early 1890s.

Doolin's first brush with the law came on July 4th, 1891, in Coffeyville, Kansas, while working on the Bar X Bar Ranch. Several of the cowboys decided to celebrate the 4th of July holiday by riding over to Coffeyville, KS and throwing a party. The story goes that there was a keg of beer there and he and his friends were getting drunk when the law showed up.

The law arrived because Kansas was a dry state. That's right, no booze. Doolin and his friends were drunk in public when lawmen arrived and attempted to confiscate their alcohol. Soon a shootout took place. As a result two of the lawmen were wounded, but Doolin escaped capture and fled Coffeyville.

Less than two months later, Doolin became a member of the Dalton Gang. Of course, October 5th, 1892 was the day that the Dalton Gang attempted to rob two banks simultaneously in Coffeyville, Kansas. Their decision to hit Coffeyville was the worse mistake they could make because it was a complete fiasco from start to finish.

Their attempt to rob the good people of Coffeyville was an utter failure. The folks and the law of that town didn't take kindly to outlaws stealing their hard earned money. The shootout which pit the citizens and lawmen against the Dalton Gang is one of the best examples of how tough and truly resilient Americans were back in the day.

The Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory didn't merge into the State of Oklahoma until it became the 46th State on November 16th, 1907. The Oklahoma Territory became an incorporated territory of the United States on May 2nd, 1890. It wasn't long after the Oklahoma Territory was established that the Dalton Gang started terrorizing the folks there. 

The Dalton gang concentrated on robbing stagecoaches and trains, but they also hit banks. During that time, it's said "the gang had more murders than loot to their credit," yet they managed to evade Oklahoma lawmen. 

Some say Bob Dalton wanted to outdo the record set by the James Gang when he decided to embark on a spectacular double bank robbery. While that speculation, some think it was just a case of overconfidence when the gang decided to rob two banks and not just one bank during a raid on a town. 

To do that, they picked their old hometown of Coffeyville. There, they would attempt to rob the First National and Condon Banks at the same time. There method of operation was always the same, ride into town quietly and try not to alarm the public. 

They rode into town and tied their horses to a fence in an alley near the two banks. They then split up. Brothers Bob and Emmett Dalton headed straight for the First National Bank. Grat Dalton, Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers went to the Condon Bank. 

Their world turned upside down when someone recognized one of the Dalton brothers. That citizen was smart in that he quietly spread the word that the banks were being robbed. So while Bob and Emmett were stuffing money into a grain sack, the town folk went for their guns and quickly surrounded the two banks. 

When the Dalton brothers walked out of the bank, bullets forced the outlaws back into the building. Regrouping, they tried to flee out the back door of the bank, but the towns folk waiting for them filled the air with gunsmoke.

In the Condon Bank, a cashier had managed to delay Grat Dalton, Powers, and Broadwell by claiming that the vault was on a time lock and couldn’t be opened. His move gave the citizens there enough time to gather their forces. 

Then a bullet smashed through the bank's window and hit Broadwell in the arm. He and the others quickly gathered up $1,500 in loose cash and headed out the back door. They fled down a back alley but were immediately shot and killed by a local livery stable owner and a barber.

On Friday, October 7, 1892, the Coffeyville Journal published the below detailed account of the Dalton Gang's last battle that had taken place two days before:

DALTONS! 

The Robber Gang Meet Their Waterloo in Coffeyville. The Outlaws Beaten at Their Own Game.

The fifth of October, 1892, will be marked in the history of the city of Coffeyville, in fact in the current history of the country, as the date on which one of the most remarkable occurrences of the age took place. Between 9:30 and 10:00 on Wednesday morning, [five men], armed to the teeth and apparently disguised, rode boldly [into town]. They entered an alley and hitched their horses to the fence. They quickly formed into a sort of military line, three in front and two in the rear. 

Aleck McKenna was in front of his place of business when the men came out of the alley, and they passed within five feet of where he was standing. He recognized one of them as a member of the Dalton family. The men quickened their pace and three of them went into C. M. Condon & Co.'s bank while two ran directly across the street to the First National bank. The next thing that greeted Mr. McKenna's eyes was a Winchester pointed toward the cashier's counter in the [Condon] bank. 

He called out that "the bank was being robbed." The cry was taken up and quickly passed from lip to lip all around the square. The unwelcome visitors in this bank were in plain view of a score or more people on the plaza.

Grat Dalton, disguised by a black moustache and side whiskers, led the raid on Condon and Co.'s bank. He sternly commanded the clerk to hand over the cash on hand, and urged him to be quick about it. The robber gathered up the funds and carelessly stuffed them in the inside of his vest. One of the other men passed into the office. 

He ordered Mr. C. M. Ball, the cashier, to bring the money out of the safe. Mr. Ball told him that the time lock was on and that he could not get into the money chest. The fellow told him that he would have to get into it, or he would be compelled to kill him. [The robber] inquired how soon the time lock would open. 

Mr. Ball told him that it was set for 9:45. "That is only three minutes yet, and I will wait," replied the intruder. Before the three minutes had expired, firing began on the outside of the bank, and the bullets began to come through the plate glass windows. All three men rushed out in the direction of the alley where their horses were hitched.

It may be stated in this connection, that Mr. Ball's story about the time lock was purely fictitious. It was set for eight o'clock and had opened at that hour. The fact that there was over forty thousand dollars in the chest influenced the cool headed cashier to lie to the burglar.

Bob Dalton, the acknowledged leader of the outfit, disguised by false moustache and goatee, accompanied by his youngest brother, Emmett, entered the First National bank. They covered the teller and the cashier with their Winchesters and, addressing the cashier by name, directed him to hand over all the money in the bank. 

The cashier very deliberately handed over the currency and gold on the counter, making as many deliveries as possible, in order to secure delay in hope of help arriving. The money [was] stuffed into a common grain sack and carefully tied up. [At the sound of] a shot from outside, [the bandits went] out through the back door of the bank. 

Just at this juncture, Lucius M. Baldwin came out of Isham's hardware story. Bob Dalton drew up his Winchester, fired, and Baldwin fell dying in the alley. Bob Dalton raised his gun and fired in the direction of the bank, and George Cubine, a man who had been his acquaintance and friend in former years, fell dead. 

Reaching the middle of the street, he fired another shot, and Charles Brown fell. Bob Dalton raised his gun and fired the fourth shot. His victim this time was Thomas Ayers, cashier of the First National bank. Emmett Dalton had run ahead of Bob with the grain sack containing over $21,000 over his shoulder. Bob and Emmett joined Grat Dalton and his party in the alley. It was at this point, in this now historic alley, that the daring highwaymen met their doom.

In the meantime, as many citizens as could so do, had procured arms and secured positions where they could command the point of retreat of the highwaymen. H. H. Isham and L. A. Deitz had stationed themselves behind two cook stoves near the door of the hardware store. 

A dozen men with Winchesters and shot guns made a barricade of some wagons. The robbers had to run the gauntlet of three hundred feet with their backs to a dozen Winchesters in the hands of men who knew how to use them. The firing was rapid and incessant for about three minutes, when the cry went up; "They are all down." 

Several men who had been pressing close after the robbers sprang into the alley and covering them with their guns ordered them to hold up their hands. One hand went up in a feeble manner. Three of the robbers were dead and the fourth helpless. 

Between the bodies of two of the dead highwaymen, lying upon his face, was Marshal T. Connelly, the bravest of all the brave men who had joined in resisting the terrible raiders in their attempt to rob the banks. Dead and dying horses and smoking Winchesters on the ground added to the horrors of the scene. Tearing the disguises from the faces, the ghastly features of Gratton and Bob Dalton, former residents of Coffeyville and well know to many of our citizens, were revealed. The other dead body proved to be that of Tom Evans, whilst the wounded man was Emmett Dalton, the youngest brother of the two principals of the notorious gang.

It was well known that one of the party had escaped, and a posse was hastily organized and started in pursuit. [In] a half mile, they came upon the bandit lying [dead] beside the road. He proved to be John Moore, the "Texas Jack" of the gang. His proper name was Richard Broadwell, and he was one of the most experienced and coolest of the gang. The dead raiders were put in the city jail.

Not over fifteen guns were actively engaged in the fight of Wednesday on both sides and the engagement lasted about ten minutes. Eight persons were killed and three wounded.

The unfounded reports that have been sent out by excited newspaper correspondents to the effect that the citizens were anticipating a visit from the Dalton gang is a canard of the worst kind, and is a reflection upon the courage and promptness to act on the part of our people. 

When the robbers were discovered, there was not a single, solitary armed man anywhere upon the square or in the neighborhood. Even Marshal Connelly had lain his pistol aside. Every gun that was used, with the exception of that brought into action by George Cubine, was procured in the hardware store and loaded and brought into play under the pressure of the great exigency that was upon the people. 

The citizens of Coffeyville who were killed in the terrible engagement with the Daltons were each one engaged in the fight, and were not innocent bystanders. Our people are adept in the business of resisting law-breakers, and they will do their duty, though it costs blood.

The smoke of Wednesday's terrific battle with the bandits has blown aside, but the excitement occasioned by the wonderful event has increased until it has gained a fever heat. The trains have brought hundreds of visitors to the scene of the bloody conflict between a desperate and notorious gang of experienced highwaymen and a brave and determined lot of citizens who had the nerve to preserve their rights and protect their property under the most trying circumstances.

The Dalton gang is no more, and travelers through the Indian Territory can go right along without fear now. The country, and the railroads and express companies especially, can breathe easier now that the Daltons are wiped out. The country is rid of the desperate gang, but the riddance cost Coffeyville some of its best blood.

-- end of the October 7, 1892, the Coffeyville Journal report.

When the shootout was over, the towns folk of Coffeyville destroyed the Dalton Gang. They actually killed every member except for Emmett Dalton. Sadly, in the process of taking out the badmen, the Dalton Gang killed four of the towns folk. As for Emmett Dalton, after recovering from his wounds, he was tried and sentenced to life in prison. Of course as is the way of the justice system today, after only serving 14 years for murder and bank robbery, he was paroled. 

I find it interesting that a number of Coffeyville citizens immediately began grabbing up souvenirs off the dead bodies of the gang. I also read where the gang members who owned new Colts did not fire them. They instead only used their Winchester rifles while trying to escape the onslaught from the towns folk.


So why wasn't Bill Doolin killed? 

Well, no one really knows if he was there or not? There are Old West historians who have said that there was a sixth gang member in an alley holding their horses and that he in fact escaped when the shooting started. Some speculate that the sixth man was their newest gang member Bill Doolin.

The problem with that is two fold. First, if he was in the alley, then he must have seen the towns folk taking position. And second, if he did escape when the shooting started, how did he do that without getting cut down as everyone else had since they were surrounded? 

For me, I agree with those historians who say Bob Dalton told Doolin, Newcomb, and Pierce, that he no longer needed them and they didn't go on the raid. I can see them returning to their hideout in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory.

So people can speculate all they want, but all anyone really knows is that for whatever reason, Bill Doolin, George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb, and Charley Pierce were not among the Dalton Gang who were wiped out in Coffeyville, Kansas, that day.

For an type of criminal gang, strength was in numbers even back then. With the Dalton Gang gone, Bill Doolin wasted no time in putting together another gang. That was when Doolin formed his own gang that same year. That gang, the law would later call the "Wild Bunch."

Because he put the gang together, Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch was also known as the "Doolin-Dalton Gang," "The Oklahombres," and "The Oklahoma Long Riders" because of the long dusters that they wore during their raids. Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch was based in the Indian Territory and is said to have terrorized Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and the Oklahoma Territory for years.

They were all killers who had no qualms about taking a life if they felt like it. They robbed banks and stores, held up trains and stagecoaches, stole Army payrolls, and did the same with mine payrolls. They killed lawmen and bystanders alike. Of its eleven members, only two would survive to see the 20th century. But even though that was the case, all eleven were met with violent deaths in gun battles with lawmen.

The gang consisted at various times of Bill Doolin, George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb also known as "Slaughter Kid," Charley Pierce, Oliver "Ol" Yantis, William Marion "Bill" Dalton, William "Tulsa Jack" Blake, Dan "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, Roy Daugherty also known as "Arkansas Tom Jones," George "Red Buck" Waightman, Richard "Little Dick" West, and William F. "Little Bill" Raidler.

Some speculate that Bill Doolin received a lot considerable aid while eluding the law in Ingalls in the Oklahoma Territory because he was once a cowboy and was well liked by many there. But frankly, no one knows that for certain -- especially when there were reports of his gang threatening, intimidating, and killing those in the Oklahoma Territory who didn't help them. Intimidation alone from a band of killers was enough to keep people quiet for allow them to take whatever they want.

On November 1st, 1892, his new gang, the Wild Bunch, robbed the Ford County Bank at Spearville, Kansas. They got away with all of the cash on hand and over $1,500 in treasury notes. From the postcard descriptions sent out, the Stillwater, Oklahoma Territory, City Marshal recognized Oliver Yantis who was the newest member of the gang. After that robbery, the gang began a spree of successful bank and train robberies.

But then the gang hid out at the house of Yantis' sister, and that was a mistake. Some say she got the word to the law that the gang was there, while others say they were spotted and the word of where they were hiding out was relayed to the law there. Either way, less than one month later, U.S. Marshals tracked the gang to that location.

On November 29th, 1892, during a shootout with a Marshal's Posse, Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Hueston and Ford County Kansas Sheriff Chalkey Beeson shot and killed new gang member Oliver Yantis. While it was good that Yantis was killed, it was unfortunate that the rest of the gang was able to escape during the shootout.

U.S. Marshal Evett Dumas Nix, often known as E.D. Nix, was appointed by the President of the United States in 1893. Handling the jurisdiction that included the wild Oklahoma Territory, he served in the closing years of the Old West during the last years of "Hanging Judge" Parker's tenure. He made his main priority the capture of the Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch gang, dead or alive.

Marshal E.D. Nix came from a family of lawmen. His uncle was a county sheriff and his father a deputy sheriff in Kentucky where his family was from. After marrying his childhood sweetheart Ellen Felts in 1885, they moved to Oklahoma during the Land Run of 1891. Nix started out by running his own business in Guthrie, Oklahoma, Interestingly, he became friends with many influential people there including cattleman Oscar Halsell who had employed Bill Doolin and other members of his gang once upon a time. 

When Nix was appointed to the position of US Marshal, he was only 32 years of age. Subsequently, he was the youngest holding that position at the time. 

Since the Doolin Gang hid out in Ingalls, Oklahoma, it's said Marshal Nix wasted no time in organizing a Marshal's Posse to find the gang in Ingalls. With Deputy Marshal John Hixon assigned in charge, there were fourteen Deputy Marshals actually assigned that.

In March of 1893, Bill Doolin married Edith Ellsworth in Ingalls. Then on June 11th, 1893, the Wild Bunch held up a Santa Fe train West of Cimarron, Kansas, and took $1,000 in silver from the California-New Mexico Express. Right on his heels was a sheriff's posse from old Beaver County, Oklahoma Territory. They caught up with the gang north of Fort Supply. 

The gang got away, but during the gunfight Doolin was hit with a bullet in his left foot. Doolin was to suffer with the pain for the rest of his short life, and it led indirectly to his capture.



The Battle of Ingalls

On September 1st, 1893, the posse organized by the Marshal Nix entered Ingalls with the intent to capture the gang. The gunbattle began when the US Marshals, led by Deputy U.S. Marshal John Hixon, engaged "Bitter Creek" Newcomb. This turned into a shootout that ended up in an exchange that left Newcomb badly wounded after firing at the most two rounds.

By a first hand account given later by U.S. Marshal Nix, a large number of the outlaws then opened fire from a saloon. This started the lawmen returning fire, killing one horse and firing in such a furious manner that it forced the outlaws to flee out a side door of the saloon. They then fled and took refuge in a large stable.

A civilian known only as Murray, who owned the saloon, then shot at the Marshals from his saloon's front door. Yes, he was a local who supported the outlaws. During his assault on the marshals, they shot him in the ribs and arm. He was badly wounded, and was later arrested for protecting the gang. And believe it or not, even though Murray himself shot at the U.S. Marshals, he actually had the nerve to pursue damages against the government two years later for what the lawmen did to his saloon. He lost his case much thanks to U.S. Marshal Nix who staunchly defended the actions of those Deputy Marshals.

During the fight, "Arkansas Tom" Jones opened fire with a rifle from an elevated position. Having an advantage over the Marshals, Jones was able to force the lawmen into taking cover. It was during that time that Jones shot Deputy Marshal Thomas Hueston. Hueston would die the next day from those wounds.

During the shootout in Ingalls, an innocent bystander named Young Simmons was fatally shot by a stray round as he attempted to take cover inside Vaughn's Saloon. Another bystander only known as "Old Man" Ramson was hit in the leg.

Bill Doolin shot and killed Deputy Marshal Richard Speed. Bill Dalton shot Deputy Marshal Lafeyette Shadley who died the following day. Shadley had fired on Dalton prior to himself being shot, breaking the leg of the outlaw's horse and toppling Dalton to the ground. Dan "Dynamite Dick" Clifton was then hit and wounded, but he was still able to ride.

U.S. Deputy Marshal James Masterson, who is known as the famous Bat Masterson's brother, eventually threw a stick of dynamite into where Arkansas Tom Jones was hiding. The explosion stunned him long enough for Masterson to  capture Jones.

Of the outlaws, "Bittercreek" Newcomb and "Dynamite Dick" Clifton were both wounded but escaped. Arkansas Tom Jones who had shot at least one of the Deputy Marshals and one citizen was stunned by the dynamite explosion and was captured. The saloon owner Murray, who had taken up arms and sided with the outlaws, survived, spent some time in prison and later sued the marshals over his being shot. The rest of the gang escaped unscathed.

Gang member Charley Pierce, who escaped, was later said to have been wounded during that gunfight. He is believed to have gone into hiding with Newcomb shortly after the Ingalls' shootout. Both men were cared for by Newcomb's girlfriend Rose Dunn.

So in what would be remembered as the Battle of Ingalls, three of the fourteen Deputy U.S. Marshals would be killed. And of the outlaws, Newcomb was seriously wounded but escaped, and  Arkansas Tom Jones who is said to have been the killer of at least one of the Deputy Marshals and one citizen was captured.

After the Battle of Ingalls, Marshal Nix went whole hog and put together a special unit of 100 Deputy Marshals to capture or kill Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch. Among those Deputy Marshals was Heck Thomas, Bill Tilghman, and Chris Madsen, who later became known as the "Three Guardsmen." The "Three Guardsmen of Oklahoma," are said to have been instrumental in bringing law and order to the Oklahoma Indian Territories in the late 1800's.

That special unit's instruction stated, in part, "I have selected you to do this work, placing explicit confidence in your abilities to cope with those desperadoes and bring them in—alive if possible -- dead if necessary."
After going into hiding and mending their wounds for a month or so after the Battle in Ingalls, the gang continued its activities again when on January 3rd, 1894, Charley Pierce and new gang member George "Red Buck" Waightman held up a store and post office at Clarkson, Oklahoma Territory. Then on January 23rd, the gang robbed the Farmers Citizens Bank at Pawnee, Oklahoma Territory.

On March 10th, the Wild Bunch robbed the Santa Fe station at Woodward, Oklahoma Territory, of over $6,000. On April 1st, 1894, the gang attempted to rob the store of retired Deputy U.S. Marshal W.H. Carr at Sacred Heart, Oklahoma Indian Territory. Carr was shot through the stomach, but still managed to shoot Newcomb in the shoulder and the gang fled without getting anything. On May 10th, 1894, the Wild Bunch robbed the bank at Southwest City, Missouri, of $4,000. They shot and killed on citizen and wounded several of the  towns folk.

On May 21st, 1894, the jurors in Arkansas Tom Jones' trial found him only guilty of manslaughter in the killing of a Deputy U.S. Marshal. Lenient sentences from sympathetic juries and judges is why Vigilante Groups formed in many cases to right things.

In this case, as a result of the jury's decision, Judge Frank Dale, the territorial judge hearing the case, returned to Guthrie, Oklahoma, which was the territorial capitol. Once there, he told Marshal E.D. Nix, "You will instruct your deputies to bring them in dead."

While this was going on, Bill Dalton left Bill Doolin and the Wild Bunch to form his own "Dalton Gang." Dalton's new gang didn't last long. Fact is on May 23rd, 1894, Dalton and his new gang robbed the First National Bank at Longview, Texas. That was actually the only job by the gang.

Since those Texans didn't take kindly to someone robbing one of their banks and trying to make off with the life saving of all there, a number of different posses chased Bill Dalton's gang and killed off three of the members. The last member of that short-lived gang was sent to life in prison.

The Wild Bunch was the most ruthless outlaw gangs in the West. But because of the relentless pursuit of the Deputy Marshals, and the rewards that were being offered for them "dead or alive," their friends who were willing to help them turned and became more than willing to help the law and collect the reward.

Some say it was the big rewards on their heads that made the gang scattered to save their hides. Some say the Marshals used the rewards to their own advantage by getting others to give them up, or at least give them information as to the movements of the gang.

One family who gave the gang comfort and a place to hide was the Dunn family who had a farm near Ingalls. It's said that they give the gang a place to hide out and information about the Deputies whereabouts. They actually helped to fence some of the stolen goods the gang had gotten from their robberies. In the end, they turned out to be fair weather friends of the Wild Bunch.

On May 1st, 1895, while hiding out at the Dunn farm, Bitter Creek Newcomb and Charlie Pierce were shot while they slept. Bill, John, and Dal Dunn had become bounty hunters. They were the older brothers of Newcomb's teenage girlfriend, their sister, Rose Dunn. 

Supposedly she betrayed Newcomb, but some think that her brothers simply followed her to their hideout. Known as "The Dunn Brothers," after they killed the outlaws, the brothers took the bodies to Guthrie and turned them over to the U.S. Marshal there for the $5,000 reward money. After that happened, Bill Doolin is said to have left the Oklahoma Territory and led to New Mexico where he hid out with outlaw Richard "Little Dick" West.

The Wild Bunch's last job

George "Red Buck" Waightman was probably from Texas. He was a horse thief, bandit, a highwayman, and killer. His alias "Red Buck" is said to have came from the fact that he was a big, tall, burly man, with red hair and mustache. 

In 1890, Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas had arrested Waightman for stealing mules in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory. While he was sentenced to nine years, Waightman is said to have escaped from the train car that was transporting him to prison. While some say he joined the Doolin Gang in August of 1893, others say he didn't join the gang until after the Battle of Ingalls. 

April 3rd, 1895, is said to be the day that Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch would pull off it's last train robbery as a gang. They robbed a train near Dover, Oklahoma Territory. After the Dover train robbery, Waightman shot a Preacher and stole his horse. Doolin and Waightman argued about murdering the preacher. Waightman left the Doolin gang. 

Of course, after that robbery the gang made its way West totally unaware that a large posse of Marshals were moving in on them. Fact is, Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Madsen and his posse boarded a special train and went to Dover to pick up their trail. Later that day, around 2:00 p.m., the Marshals Posse caught up with the gang surprising them as they were camped near Ames, Oklahoma Territory.

In the shootout with Marshal Madsen and his men, the outlaw "Tulsa Jack" Blake was killed. The rest of the gang scattered and was able to get away. This time they split up and would never get back together as a gang again. While some of its members kept up the robberies and killings, such as in the case of Waightman who would go on to form his own outlaw gang, Bill Doolin saw the handwriting on the wall as each of his gang was getting picked off one by one. 

Bill Doolin is said to have seen the writing on the wall that his time was coming. So believe it or not, Doolin had contacted a lawyer to get in touch with U.S. Marshall Nix. He tried getting in touch with Nix on three different occasions over the summer of 1895. In each contact, Doolin offered to turn himself in if Nix would promise him a light sentence. Each time, Marshal Nix refused.

Because of his refusal, Doolin saw only one option. The only thing left for Doolin was to leave the territory. With that, he made his way into New Mexico and soon joined up with Little Dick West. 

On September 6th, 1895, a Marshals Posse led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman shot and captured Wild Bunch member "Little Bill" Raidler near Pawhuska, Oklahoma Territory. Raidler stood trial for his part in the Dover robbery and was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years. He was paroled in 1903 and returned to Oklahoma. He wasn't out of prison a year when he died in 1904 as a result of complications from being shot in 1895.

Doolin returned to Oklahoma to gather up his family. Some say he wanted to leave and put his murderous life behind and make a new start. Others say they don't believe that at all. Fact is, by that time he and his wife Edith had a son. Most believe he wanted them along with him while on the run. He knew full well that it was easier to get lost in a town as a relocating family, a married man with a wife and child, then it would be as a newcomer single man.

The Doolin family lived near Burden, Kansas, for the rest of 1895. But frankly, the law wasn't finished with Bill Doolin.

Deputy U.S. Marshal Tilghman learned of Edith Doolin's disappearance from the Ingalls area and was able to trail her to Burden. When Tilghman arrived in Burden, he was too late as Edith Doolin had already returned to Oklahoma with a man named "Tom Wilson." After that, while again using the alias "Tom Wilson," Bill Doolin had gone to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to seek the healing treatment of the hot springs.

Supposedly he went there so the hot springs would help ease the pain of rheumatism. Supposedly he endured a lot of pain from his many gunshot wounds. I say supposedly because no one really knows if this is true or not, and really on speculation.

In early 1896, Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman suspected Tom Wilson was really Bill Doolin. So he proceeded to Eureka Springs where he did in fact find Doolin. And there he got the drop on him and capture him, then returned him to Guthrie.

While this was the first time in his life that Bill Doolin was behind bars, it wouldn't be for long. Fact is on July 5th, 1896, Bill Doolin, Dynamite Dick, and twelve other prisoners escaped from the Guthrie jail. Once outside of jail, Doolin was able to make it back to Lawson, Oklahoma, where his wife Edith was staying with her folks.


On August 24th, 1896, Bill Doolin was ambushed and killed. His death was instant after Marshal Heck Thomas opened up on him with both barrels of buckshot from his shotgun.

Some say that bounty hunter Bill Dunn found out where Doolin was hiding out. Dunn supposedly led Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas to Doolin. There are those who speculate that Bill Dunn killed Doolin for the reward money, but most discount this since the reward money was not paid to Dunn. 

As for Bill Dunn and his bounty hunter brothers, late in 1896 the folks in Pawnee, Oklahoma Territory started to talk. The talk was that the Dunn brothers were involved in rustling and even a robbery in the area. 

Sheriff Frank Canton began investigating the claims of the folks there. Bill Dunn made the mistake of not changing his ways while underestimating Sheriff Canton who was in fact a lawman with a very substantial reputation as a gunman.

On November 6th, 1896, as Sheriff Canton finished dinner and walked out of a restaurant when Bill Dunn suddenly appeared in front of the Sheriff out of nowhere.  Dunn who should have already had his gun out was trying to draw his pistol when Canton drew his quicker and put two rounds into Bill Dunn. Canton's rounds slammed into Dunn's chest and is said to have killed him instantly. After an examination by a coroner's jury, the shooting was ruled self defense. 

Bill Dunn rode into the town of Pawnee with the clear intent of murdering Sheriff Canton. His death is said to have ended the bounty hunting careers for the Dunn brothers simply because they were seen as not as tough as they pretended to be.

It was a ruthless time in the Oklahoma Indian Territories at the time. The Wild Bunch were outlaws Hell bent on death, destruction, and taking what they wanted. And really, they died in the same way that they lived -- very violently.

As for the list of how they died:

Oliver Yantis was killed November 29th, 1892 at Orlando, Oklahoma Territory by Ford County, Kansas Sheriff Chalkey Beeson and Deputy US Marshal Tom Hueston.

Arkansas Tom Jones was captured September 1st, 1893, in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory. He was pardoned in 1910, but he was shot dead on August 16th, 1924, in Joplin, Missouri, by Joplin City Police Detectives.

Bill Dalton was shot and killed on June th8, 1894, near Elk, Indian Territory, by an Anadarko posse.

Tulsa Jack Blake was shot dead on April 4th, 1895, near Ames, Oklahoma Territory, by Deputy U.S. Marshals Will Banks and Isaac Prater.

Bitter Creek Newcomb and Charley Pierce was shot and killed in their sleep on May 2nd, 1895, in Payne County, Oklahoma Territory, by the Dunn Brothers who were bounty hunters and bush whackers.

Little Bill Raidler was shot and captured on September 6th, 1895, by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman. Then paroled in 1903 because of complication from wounds received when he was captured. He died of complication from those wounds in 1904.

By the fall of 1895, George "Red Buck" Waightman had started his own gang which included Texas outlaws George Miller, Joe Beckham and Elmer "Kid" Lewis. The Waightman Gang rustled cattle, robbed a stage, and robbed a couple of general stores in Western Oklahoma. That same year they robbed a train near Curtis in Woodward County in September, and they also robbed Charles E. Noyes's general store in Arapaho in October. 

The Waightman gang members all died violent deaths. Joe Beckham was shot to death in December of 1895. Elmer "Kid" Lewis was hanged by vigilantes after robbing a bank in Wichita Falls, Texas, on February 27th, 1896. 

Red Buck Waightman was killed March 4th, 1896, near Arapaho, Oklahoma Territory, shot by a Custer County posse.

George Miller was shot and wound when he and Red Buck Waightman went up against a Custer County posse. Believe it or not, Miller was setup with a hook prosthesis to replace his shot up right hand. George "Hookey" Miller actually switched sides and became a deputy sheriff in the oil boomtown of Three Sands, Oklahoma, during the 1920s. Miller was killed on July 21st, 1923, by a Choctaw Indian named Jackson Burns. 

"Dynamite Dick" Clifton was captured in June of 1896 by Deputy U.S. Marshals from Texas. He escaped with Bill Doolin. He was shot dead on November 7th, 1897, near Checotah, Indian Territory by a Marshals Posse led by Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Madsen.

"Little Dick" West was shot dead on April 8th, 1898, in Logan County, Oklahoma Territory, by Deputy U.S. Marshals led by Deputy Marshal Madsen.

Bill Doolin was captured January 15th, 1896, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman. He escaped with Dynamite Dick Clifton. A shotgun blast by Deputy U.S. Marshal Heck Thomas killed Bill Doolin on August 24th, 1896, in Lawson, Oklahoma Territory.

Bill Doolin's death was as violent as the rest of his Wild Bunch. And of all the outlaw gangs in the Old West, fact is none were more violent, and none met a more violent end, than Bill Doolin's Wild Bunch.

As for a little trivia on this, here's something for you. After getting out of prison on parole, believe it or not, Emmett Dalton actually used his infamy as a former Old West bandit to become a screenwriter in Hollywood. After moving to Hollywood, he lived a life of writing Westerns until he died at the age of 66 in 1937.

And if that's not strange enough for you, here's something as strange to say the least. U.S. Marshal E.D. Nix was dismissed from the Marshals Service and moved to California. He died in Riverside, California, on February 4th, 1946 at the aged of 84. After leaving the Marshals Service, he became a film actor, writer, and movie producer in Hollywood just like Emmett Dalton.

Imagine that!

Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. Excellent story. I enjoyed reading this very historical well researched article about Oklahoma back in the 1800's. Thanks for writing it. I was able to google some of the names and the outlaws and marshals etc pictures come right up. Neat.

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