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Pale Horse Revelations #51 - The Wild Bunch

Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations. where we explore significant people, places, and events in Old West history. While I make no promises, don't be surprised if some of these places, people, or events find their way into future Pale Rider adventures.

Last week's post featuring the Battle of Ingalls introduced a number of colorful characters from both sides of the law. Over the next several weeks we'll take a closer look into the lives of some of those characters. We'll start this week with the undisputed victors of that historic battle, the group of outlaws known as the Wild Bunch.

This notorious gang of outlaws was co-led by Bill Doolin and William Marion "Bill" Daltin and formally known as the Doolin-Daltin Gang. It is impossible to explore the origins of this group without a brief discussion of the Daltin Gang that preceded it. Bill Doolin, along with Wild Bunch members George "Bitter Creek" Newcomb and Charley Pierce, had been members of the Daltin Gang, led by Bob Daltin. However, they grew dissatisfied with the way Bob Daltin was splitting the money from their robberies and left the gang in July of 1892. The decision to abandon the gang would prove to be fortuitous as the remaining five members of the gang would be gunned down just a few months later during a botched robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas.

For a while the three former Daltin Gang members rode with Henry Star, making several raids during this period. After the Daltin Gang was wiped out, the three paid a visit to Daltin's mother to offer their condolences on the loss of her sons. As fate would have it, her two surviving sons, Bill and Lit, were visiting their mother at that same time. Bill Doolin suggested that the two join his group and avenge the death of their brothers. Neither of the brothers had participated in their brothers' robberies, though Bill had aided them from time to time. Bill decided to join Doolin and the others, while Lit refused.

The newly formed Wild Bunch wasted little time. They carried out their first robbery on November 1, 1892, when they hit the Ford County Bank in Sperryville, Kansas. They absconded with all of the cash and over $1,500 in treasury notes.

On June 11, 1893, the gang struck again. This time they held up a train west of Cimarron, Kansas. The gang came away with $1,000 in silver. A sheriff's posse pursued the gang, eventually catching up with them near Fort Supply. A gun battle ensued and while all the gang members escaped, Bill Doolin was shot in the left foot. The wound would trouble him for the remainder of his life.

In September of 1893 the infamous Battle of Ingalls occurred. As we learned last week the gang emerged victorious, but hardly unscathed. Gang member "Arkansas Tom Jones" was captured and several others were wounded. On the other side of the ledger, the gang killed three of the lawmen. Two townspeople died in the gun battle as well.

The gang took some time to lick their wounds. In January 1894 they launched a new campaign centered in Oklahoma Territory. On the 3rd two gang members robbed a store and post office in Clarkson. On the 23rd the gang hit the Farmers Citizens Bank at Pawnee. And on March 10, 1894, they struck the Santa Fe Railway station in Woodward, riding away with over $6,000.00.

On April 1, 1894, the gang made a serious mistake when they attempted to rob a store owned by former U.S. Deputy Marshal W.H. Carr. Carr put up a fight and despite being shot in the stomach managed to wound Newcomb and drive the gang off empty handed. On May 10, 1894, the gang robbed the bank in Southwest City, Missouri of $4,000.00. They killed one citizen and wounded several others during the robbery.

Bill Daltin left the Wild Bunch to form his own Daltin Gang. Daltin and his new gang would carry out only one robbery, hitting the First National Bank in Longview, Texas. They gang was hunted down by various posses and all, but one gang member was killed.

Meanwhile, Bill Doolin, and his Wild Bunch remained active. On 19,1894 Doolin and five others tried to rob the J.R. Pearce store in Texana, Oklahoma Territory. In a humiliating turn of events, they were driven off after looting less than twenty dollars' worth of merchandise.

Ironically, the last robbery committed by the gang did not include their leader. For some reason, Doolin was absent when the gang robbed the Rock Island train in Dover, Oklahoma on April 3, 1895. The gang's bad luck continued as they found themselves unable to open the safe containing $50,000.00 in army payroll. They instead had to settle for robbing the passengers of whatever cash and jewelry they had on their persons. Renowned marshal Chris Madsen led a posse out from Dover via train and was able to pick up the gang's trail the following morning. Madsen and his posse surprised the gang around noon, killing one man and scattering the others.

Eventually every member of the Wild Bunch would meet a violent end. The first was Oliver "Ol" Lantis who was tracked down and killed after the gang's first robbery in November of 1892. Co-leader Bill Dalton was killed by a posse on June 8, 1894, near Elk, Indian Territory. William "Tulsa Jack" Blake was shot and killed by U.S. Deputy Marshals Will Banks and Isaac Prater on April 4, 1895. "Bitter Creek" Newcomb and Charley Pierce meet their demise at the hands of the bounty hunters known as the Dunn Brothers. The two died together on May 2, 1895.

Bill Doolin was captured in Eureka Springs, Arkansas by Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Tilghman on January 15, 1896. He managed to escape along with fellow gang member "Dynamite Dick" Clifton. His reprieve from justice was short-lived. On August 24, 1896, a posse led by Marshal Heck Thomas caught up with Doolin in Lawson, Oklahoma Territory. Doolin was shot down and killed.

George Weightman was killed by a posse near Arapaho, Oklahoma Territory on March 4, 1896. "Dynamite Dick" was killed on November 7, 1897. Finally, Richard West met his fatal end on April 8, 1898, at the hands of U.S. Marshals led by Chris Madsen.

This brings us to the end of another edition of Pale Horse Revelations. I hope you found it to be both interesting and entertaining. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting historical information while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.

Don't forget, I would love to hear your suggestions for topics to focus on in future editions of Pale Horse Revelations. If there's a particular location, person, or event that you would like to know more about, please let me know. Just fill out the Contact form found on the "Contact the Author" page of this website and indicate your desired topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.

 


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