A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.





Friday, October 5, 2012

Coffeyville, Kansas - 120 Years Ago Today


October 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang attempted to do what had never been done before – rob two banks the same day at the same time.  The gang comprised of brothers Grat, Bob and young Emmett Dalton, Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell.

Their first mistake was to rob banks in a town they were well known in as the Daltons had at one time lived near Coffeyville.  With this in mind they donned disguises.  As they rode into town, the place where they planned to tie up their horses near the two banks was unavailable due to construction.  They had to change their plan and park the horses at the end of a long alley off the main street.  This was their second mistake.

As they approached the two banks the gang split up with Grat, Bill and Dick entering the Condon Bank while Bob and Emmett Dalton walked around the corner to the First National Bank.  The town suspected someday the Dalton Gang might try to rob their banks and thus were on alert.  Sure enough someone noticed them right away and silently let other citizens know of their arrival.  Isham’s Hardware, situated between the two banks, handed out guns and ammunition to 30 townsfolk and they took up positions.

1892
Today

The three robbers in the Condon Bank let everyone know this was a hold-up and no one would get hurt, “Just hand over the money in the vault”.  A quick thinking bank clerk bravely told them that he couldn’t open the vault door as it was on a timer (there was no timer) and wouldn’t be able to open until 3 minutes passed when it would be 9:45.  This was to give everyone time to be ready.  Grat uttered the now famous line “We’ll wait”.  That was their third mistake.

Meanwhile Bob and Emmett were busy cleaning out the First National Bank vault.  They decided to leave from the rear of the bank.  Unfortunately young Lucius Baldwin thought he would get the drop on them by coming in from the rear of the bank.  They met in the alley behind the bank and Bob Dalton shot 22 year old Lucius dead on the spot - the bronze marker at bottom left.  From the back of the bank Bob and Emmett had to go up this alley.

At the opposite end of the alley between the First National Bank and Isham’s Hardware, shoemakers George Cubine and Charles Brown would lose their lives.  The First National stood to the left of the curbing, leaving that to the right as an alleyway.  You may be able to notice the two plaques on the other side of the orange fencing where George and Charles fell.
 
Hearing gunfire Grat, Bill and Dick grabbed some hostages and shoved them out the bank door in front of them.

The teller's view of the front door.

 With George and Charles lying at the left corner of Isham's Hardware, Bob and Emmet rounded the corner
and faced running across the front of the Condon bank for the far alley.
(ignore the Condon bank you see, that is the new one)
The other three joined them and as all five ran for the alley and their horses, the gunfight broke out in full force. 
Midway down the alley was the back of the Marshall’s office (you could say that was their 4th mistake). As 46 year old City Marshall Charles T. Connely, who was also the school teacher, stepped into the alley he was gunned down by Grat Dalton.

The Marshall's memorial plaque set back in a little alcove.
 
The city repaints the outlines often for they get worn away with traffic and weather.  Grat was freshly redone and I couldn't locate Bill Powers.
Grat and Bob Dalton, along with Bill Powers died in the alley which today is known as Death Alley.  Dick Broadwell and Emmett Dalton made it to their horses although Dick was mortally wounded and would be found dead on the outskirts of town.  It was young Emmett, with 23 gunshot wounds to his body, who would be the only one to survive the day the Dalton Gang met their demise.

Here is where the horses were tied.  Notice the holes in the roof where the defenders poked their gun barrels out of.

Bob Dalton died near the horses.  It is said four horse died in the gunfight but did not specify if they were all of the bandits or some innocent bystanders.

Emmett was soon captured, patched up and sentenced to life imprisonment.  He wrote poetry while in prison, was a model prisoner and worked as a supervisor in the prison tailor shop.  He was paroled after 14 years based upon his good behavior and the belief that he was easily coerced by his older brothers in the robbery.  Incidentally, Bob Dalton was at one time a deputy U.S. Marshall, but the pay was never forth coming and he turned to crime.  In 1908 (2 years after his parole) Emmett visited Coffeyville for the first time since the raid and was well received by its citizens.  He later moved to California where he worked in real estate, wrote two books about the Dalton Gang, produced “moving pictures” to tell the story of the Daltons, lectured against crime and performed in a couple of Hollywood movies.  He died at the age of 67.

The Defenders Museum of which only a small room is devoted to the bank robbery.

In case you wanted to know what everyone looked like.
The citizens who died

The Dalton Gang with Emmett alive but not so well in the inset.

This is Emmett's gun belt showing how a slug hit one of the cartridges.  The note stated that it probably saved his life.  With 23 gun shot wounds, this was the one that would have done him in?  Yeah, okay.

And what about the money?  The dual robbery netted around $25,000.  As the day’s banking business was completed and the books balanced, the Condon Bank was $20 short and the First National Bank was over $1.98.

This is the woman on duty that morning in the museum.  They had just opened up at 10am.  I was the only one there.  It was deathly quiet except for the tick tock of large old fashion clock - a tick tock you could not get away from anywhere in the museum.  She seemed not too well and I wondered if she didn't have a doctor appointment later on and that she had in the plastic bottle was a sample at her doctor's request.  So I am in the last part where they have souvenir stuff for sale and saw this, thinking it so funny.  I wondered if I could sneak out with her knowing but the creaking old door gave me away.  She briefly regained consciousness and thanked me for coming by.  It was going to be a long day for that lady.
tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick tock....
I still laugh looking at this.

Tomorrow we will visit the cemetery. 




11 comments:

  1. ..what a laugh at the end John. I may have mis-read somewhere, but these guys were each shot dead. They were then laid out with hand-cuffs on? A very good post, you put a lot into it.

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  2. Ahh, the Dalton Gang, not much has changed since I was last there. Hey, give the woman a break, she was multi-tasking! Great post.

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  3. Very interesting today, John! I did not know the whole history...always enjoy reading what you write...and seeing your photos. Gives me a sense of being there without having to leave my chair!

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  4. Good laugh at the end. That's a great story. I have to say I wasn't all that familiar with it. There were certainly some colossal mistakes made.

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  5. What a story, I didn't know the Daltons were real persons, only knew them from Lucky Luke. Thought those were just strip characters! The last picture is so funny in the context, you should think she had shot down too. It is all very realistic with the victims still chalked on the ground. Thanks for sharing this story.

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  6. quite the bit of history, here. the townsfolk who step out to defend their banks/towns are brave. not sure how many today would do that.

    interesting how emmett lived a long 'civilian' life afterwards.

    that sweet lady...

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  7. If that was sample, that was a LOT of it!! :)

    Neat history lesson here. I can't believe they keep those body outlines!! Its kinda cool

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  8. Just in the spirit of history, and given the opportunity with a dozing docent, I think I might have attempted to make off with that jar of dollar bills in the last photo.

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  9. So many great things to see. I love that bank building.

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  10. wow, too bad about the horses getting killed. I love that bank building - the first shot. the lady's skin color doesn't look so good. I wish you would have gotten a photo of the clock but what an excellent and interesting post. I know nothing of this story.
    happy weekend to you and orange fur-ball.

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  11. LOL! It made me laugh too. I made my hubby read your post too. He's such a history buff. Can't believe they have the body outlines still painted!

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