Thursday, August 29, 2013

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part Two


As I said in Part One, here are some gunmen and outlaws who never made it big in the minds of the public.

And yes, the reasons are many - but basically some did the crime but didn't have the name recognition that Dime Novelists wanted.

Others of course simply didn't live long enough to find their own biographer and rewrite their own history - like say how Wyatt Earp did his.

Vicente Silva

In Las Vegas, New Mexico, though it was just not so apparent to the town's citizens, they didn't notice a marked increase in cattle rustling. By the late 1880's entire herds were disappearing.

Led by a man named by Vicente Silva, a respected saloon owner of the Imperial Saloon, the group was called the Silva's White Caps, or Forty Bandits; or sometimes, the Society of Bandits.

Often meeting in Silva's saloon, the gang held the area in a virtual stranglehold until October, 1892. At that time the Las Vegas citizens hanged a fellow gang member named Pat Maes. Soon thereafter the bandit group gradually disintegrated.

Silva was eventually murdered by former members of his gang and was buried at Camp de lost Cadillos on May 19, 1895.

Juan Soto alias "The Human Wildcat"

Juan Soto, who's alias was "The Human Wildcat," was part Indian and Mexican. He was said to be a very large, ugly man, who was a notorious California thief and murderer.

In 1871 he was involved in a killing in Alameda County, and Sheriff Harry Morse made Soto the subject of one of his relentless manhunts. Morse found Soto several months later, and following a spectacular pistol duel, the fugitive was shot to death while running toward Morse's Henry rifle yelling insanely!

Some animals just need to be shot!

William Larkin "Billy" Siles

William Larkin "Billy" Stiles was a young gunman, who rumored to have killed his father at the age of twelve, who gained notoriety in the Southwest at the turn of the century. After assisting lawman Jeff Milton, he was hired by Burt Alvord, marshal of Wilcox, Arizona.

The two law officers soon organized a gang of train robbers, however, including Three-Fingered Jack Dunlap, George and Louis Owens, Bravo Juan Yoas. and Bob Brown. Stiles and Alvord eventually were exposed, and the next few years brought a series of chases, arrests, and escapes.

In 1904, Alvord was captured, but Stiles fled the country and worked his way finally to China.

He soon returned to the United States, where he was killed while working as a Nevada deputy sheriff under the alias "William Larkin." Yes, Alvord was crooked - and his deputy was as well!

William Towerly

One Sunday morning on November 29, 1887, the two deputies found Smith with his gang, Lee Dixon, his brother-in-law, Dixon's wife and William Towerly in a tent near the Arkansas River.

The outlaws had the advantage in numbers and firepower so they knew it was to their benefit to stand their ground in a gunfight.

Dalton and Cole rushed the tent knowing the outlaws had very little protection from within. The lawmen were surprised when they ran into a heavy barrage of gunfire.

Frank Dalton was the first to be hit as a slug tore into his chest driving him to the ground. Towerly, seeing the fallen officer ran directly toward Frank Dalton shooting him several times in the head as he passed over him. As the smoke cleared, Dixon also lay seriously wounded on the ground with Towerly making his escape.

Towerly made his mark as a gunman by killing two peace officers in separate shootouts, although he was himself shot to death in his last fight.

Towerly's escape was brief for the lawmen were on his trail finding him near his home at Atoka, Choctaw Nation. Towerly fought to his death for he knew killing a deputy marshal meant a trip to Judge Parker's gallows.

Joe Walker

Walker's father, a Texas rancher, died when Joe Walker was still an infant. His mother had turned their property over to her brother, a Dr. Whitmore, to manage.

About 1870 Whitmore merged the Walker herd with his own and moved to a ranch in northern Arizona, where he was soon killed in an Indian raid.

Whitmore's widow sold out and migrated with her sons, George and Tobe, to Carbon County, Utah, where they became a prominent banking and ranching family.

When Walker's mother died, he went to Utah to make a property settlement with the Whitmores.

They denied any relationship or property claims by Walker, and he found employment at local ranches and at a Huntington sawmill and began to hound the Whitmores.

After a shooting incident in 1895 Walker threw in with outlaws at nearby Robbers Roost and began to rustle cattle and horses.

He frequently stole stock from the Whitmores, but on one such raid an accomplice named C. L. ("Gunplay") Maxwell informed the authorities of Walker's whereabouts after the two outlaws quarreled.

Walker managed to escape only after a lengthy chase and siege.

A few months later, on April 21, 1897, Walker cut telegraph wires and otherwise aided Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch in pulling off the eight-thousand-dollar Castle Gate payroll robbery.

About one year later, following another raid on Whitmore livestock, Walker was chased by a nine-man posse in Utah.

Encamped near the town of Thompson with a passing cowboy named Johnny Herring, Walker bedded down for the night with his gun in his blankets. But the posse surrounded the camp during the night, and when Walker stirred at dawn, the lawmen opened fire.

Walker and Herring, who was assumed by the posse to be Butch Cassidy, were riddled with bullets and died in their bedrolls.

Nathaniel Ellsworth Wyatt

The son of an Indiana farmer, Nathaniel Ellsworth Wyatt moved with his parents and brother to Oklahoma in 1889.

After his brother, Nim "Six-Shooter Jack", was killed in Texline, Texas, Zip turned bad. He was involved in several fatal shootings and began robbing stores, post offices, and trains.

He took refuge in Indiana, but was tracked down and arrested by Chris Madsen. He escaped from jail in Guthrie, but in 1895 a posse surprised and shot him.

Ben Gravens

Often called the last of the notorious Oklahoma outlaws, Ben Cravens was the troublesome son of farmer B. B. Cravens.

Ben ran away to the lawless Indian Territory after being jailed for tearing up the local school. He became a horse thief, whiskey runner, and train robber. Frequently arrested, he just as frequently escaped from jail.

He broke out of custody in Lineville and Corydon, Iowa, Guthrie and Tecumseh, Oklahoma, and Lansing, Kansas.

Cravens was married to a Missouri girl and worked as a farmhand for a time, but he was arrested under an alias for stealing hogs, and when his true identity was revealed, charges were brought against him.

He was given a life sentence, although he won parole as an old man.

Jack Dunlap alias "Three-Finger Jack"

Jack Dunlap, alias "Three-Fingered Jack," was a notorious Arizona outlaw about the turn of the century. Captured in 1895, he soon was loose again, and he joined the bandit gang of Black Jack Christian. Later Dunlap became involved with the Burt Alvord-Billy Stiles band of train robbers.

Burt Alvord and Billy Stiles were both lawmen who were also outlaws, Jack Dunlap joined up with them and the Owen brothers, Bravo Juan Yaos, Bob Brown.

During a train robbery in Fairbank, Texas, the train pulled into the station and as the crowd was milling about, the outlaws mingled with the crowd pretending to be drunken cowboys.

Sheriff Jeff Milton was standing in the open door of the baggage car when the outlaws opened fire with lever-action Winchesters, shattering his left arm and severing an artery.

Unable to return fire because of the innocent by-standers Milton grabbed his shotgun and waited for his chance. The outlaws took the opportunity to charge the train in all the confusion,  and instead were met with buckshot.

Three-Finger Jack caught a load of buckshot in the chest. And though he died, it was only after confessing who the gang members were.

Tranquellano Estabo

Within a few months in 1895 this notorious Mexican outlaw was involved in three gunfights. Near Phoenix, N.M., Tranquellano Estabo and some friends got into a fight with Walter Paddleford and some other men.

Three of the Mexicans were killed in the shootout, but Estabo escaped unhurt. A few months later, after mortally wounding a man during a card game in a Phoenix saloon, Estabo went into the street and began shooting his pistols.

When ordered to stop by Sheriff Dee Harkey and his assistant Cicero Stewart, Estabo replied with gunfire. When Estabo jumped on his horse and tried to escape, Harkey gave chase.

Just three miles out of town, Estabo was forced to surrender.

The frightened gunman was returned to town where he was nearly killed by Stewart. Estabo's life was spared and he was put in jail to await trial.

Chris Evans

Chris Evans was a Californian who owned a farm near the mine of George and John Sontag, a pair of train robbers. In 1892, Evans helped the Sontag brothers escape from a posse, and after George was captured, Evans teamed up with John in stopping stagecoaches.

They claimed that they were searching for lawmen to kill, but they seemed to have no compunctions against seizing whatever loot was available. The manhunt continued for nine months, and the two fugitives shot their way out of trap after trap, wounding seven deputies in the process.

When they were finally apprehended, John was killed, and Evans, once he recovered from his wounds, was sentenced to life in prison.

On December 3, 1893, he managed to escape, but he was recaptured the following February and was returned to his cell.

David Lyle Kemp

As a youth in Hamilton, Texas, David Lyle Kemp killed a man named Smith. Kemp was sentenced to be hanged, and in panic he tore away from his guards and jumped out of a second story courtroom window.

He broke both ankles in the fall, but somehow clambered onto a horse before being surrounded and recaptured. However, because of his age the governor commuted his sentence to life, then gave him a full pardon.

Kemp drifted into New Mexico, opened a butcher shop in Eddy which is present day Carlsbad, acquired an interest in a gambling casino in nearby Phoenix, and believe it or not actually became sheriff when Eddy County was organized in 1889. He conducted his office in the interests of his gambling cohorts, and the county became quite rowdy.

Dee Harkey was appointed deputy U.S. marshal to subdue the area, and Kemp and his friends threatened and on more than one occasion tried to kill the troublesome lawman. Kemp also bought a ranch in the vicinity and turned to rustling to increase his ranching and butchering profits.

He was cuaght red-handed by Harkey one night and agreed to leave the country. He stayed in Arizona for a few years, but returned when an old enemy, Les Dow, was elected sheriff of Eddy County.

Kemp killed Dow, took up rustling again, and eventually returned to Texas to a ranch near Higgins. There he was shot and killed by his sister during the 1930's. Yes, in the 1930's!

Steve Long

Steve Long, alias "Big Steve," had a background that was pretty obscure. But, at six-foot, six-inches, the northerner established himself as a vicious gunman in Laramie.

In 1867, Long obtained a postion as deputy marshal of Laramie and participated in a pair of bloody gunfights within two months.

Steve Long, was a professional gunfighter who teamed up with brothers Ace and Con Moyer establishing a saloon in Laramie City, Wyoming.

The Moyer brothers founded the town, appointing themselves as justice of the peace and marshal, respectively. Steve Long was made the deputy marshal.

With six guns, they ruled with an iron hand. The trio dished out "justice" in the backroom of the saloon, ordering ranchers to sign over deeds to their lands and miners to hand over their claims.

Those who refused were shot to death by Long on the pretense that the victim reached for a weapon. Numerous others were killed when they objected to crooked card games run at the saloon. The townsfolk began to refer to the saloon as "The Bucket of Blood."

Meanwhile, a local rancher by the name of N.K. Boswell began talk of forming a vigilante group to put the trio out of business.

Long also was in the habit of moonlighting as a thief, and on October 18th, 1868, he attempted to ambush and rob prospector Rollie "Hard Luck" Harrison. In the ensuing gunfight, Long was shot and he retreated.

Back in Laramie City, Long's fiancée treated the wound but was incensed when Long told her how he received it. She told the vigilante group about Long's attempted robbery.  Nice gal huh?

Wasting no time the group stormed into The Bucket of Blood on October 28th, 1868, seizing Long and the Moyer brothers.

Dragging them to a partially finished cabin, they began to string them up to the rafters. But before he could be strung up Long asked the vigilantes to remove his boots.

His last words were "my mother always said that I would die with my shoes on."

They promptly hanged him from a telegraph pole with his bare feet dangling, and his fiancee, that sweet gal, put up a marker to his somewhat tarnished memory.

Port Stockton

Born the son of a Texas rancher, Port Stockton and his older brother Ike early on demonstrated a leaning toward the wild side of life.

At seventeen years of age, Port assaulted a man and was charged with attempted murder - but older brother Ike helped him to escape the law.

Port drifted to Dodge City, then in 1874 he went to Lincoln County, New Mexico, where Ike had opened a saloon.

Ike was raising a family, and Port soon married a Baptist preacher's daughter named Irma. But within two years, the brothers had moved to Colorado and settled in Trinidad.

In October, 1876, Port got into a shooting scrape in Cimarron, New Mexico, and Ike had to spring him with a predawn jailbreak.

Two months later there was another gunfight in Trinidad, and the Stocktons hastily moved to Animas City, Colorado. Seems like they were running out of towns.

Port gambled for a while, then secured an appointment as city marshal. But marshal or not, he was run out of town after he angrily chased and fired his pistol at a Negro barber who had accidently nicked him with a razor during a shave.

He briefly held the marshal's job in Rico, Colorado, but he was forced to leave there, too, when his past caught up with him.

Port next moved his wife and two small daughters to a shack just outside Farmington, New Mexico.

Port teamed up with a pair of hard cases named Harge Eskridge and James Garret, and the trio was widely suspected of rustling. Then the three undesirables shot up a New Year's Eve party after being thrown out, and hard feelings grew.

Port was killed in the violence that followed, and Ike swore revenge.

There was an outbreak of rustling soon thereafter, and when certain area citizens were shot up, Ike was blamed and Governor Lew Wallace issued a reward for his arrest.

In September, 1881, Ike was shot in the leg in the streets of Durango, and he died following amputation.

Tough luck for the tough guy!

Robert T. Tucker

I just read in some maginzine dedicated to Old West History that contrary to popular belief Horse Thiefs were not really "a hanging offense."

So why do I laugh at writers who come up with stuff like that? Well, I think that bullspit opinion would have been interesting news to Robert Tucker.

Nothing is known about him other than the fact that he's proof that the 1800's were tough on bad guys and horse thieves. After being caught by vigilantes for stealing a horse, he was hung as a horse thieve.

"Alleged" or not, he was still hung for it!


For more information of Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws, don't hesitate to visit:

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part One

Little Known Old West Gunmen & Outlaws - Part Three

This information was compiled from multiple sources.

Thanks for visiting!

Tom Correa

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