Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dalton Brothers Coffeyville Bank Robbery

Bob and Grat Dalton
Photographed after their death
From The Dalton Brothers & Their
Astounding Career of Crime
, 1892
Bob Dalton had this crazy idea.
He wanted to make the Dalton Gang more famous than Jesse James. The only problem was to do that he had to do something spectacular, something never tried before, something so bold, so daring the newspapers couldn’t help but take notice.
When he told his brother Emmett what he wanted to do, Emmett thought he was nuts. Rob two banks, in the same town, at the same time, in a town everyone knew you in. It didn’t make sense. The only reason Emmett said he went along was, “he was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.” Even if he stayed out of it, he was sure the law would hunt him down.
The best account of the daring robbery was published in the Coffeyville Journal shortly after the robbery took place. “Between 9:30 and 10:00 on Wednesday morning, [the Dalton Gang] armed to the teeth and apparently disguised, rode boldly into [Coffeyville].”
The boys hitched their horses in an alley, and quickly made their way to the two banks. Grat Dalton, Bill Powers, and Dick Broadwell entered the C. M. Condon Bank; Bob and Emmett Dalton hurried into the First National Bank.
Grat was disguised with a black mustache and side whiskers. He ordered the clerk to hand over the cash, “and be quick about it.” When one of the robbers told the cashier, C. M. Ball, to grab the money from the safe, he told them he couldn’t—it was on a time lock, and couldn’t be opened for another three minutes. By that time gunfire erupted outside the bank, and the robbers made a rush for the alley.
At the First National Bank, Bob Dalton was disguised with a mustache and false goatee. “They covered the teller and cashiers with their Winchesters…and directed [the cashier] to hand over all the money in the bank.” When they heard gunshots outside, Bob and Emmett hurried out the back door, and opened fire. Lucius Baldwin, George Cubine, and Charles Brown fell dead.
By this time all five bandits were in the alley attempting to make their way to their horses. “A dozen men with Winchesters and shotguns made a barricade of some wagons. The robbers had to run the gauntlet of three hundred feet with their backs to the Winchesters in the hands of men who knew how to use them.” A murderous fired poured through the alley for three minutes. “Three of the robbers were dead, and the fourth helpless.” Dick Broadwell made it to his horse, but was discovered dead on the ground about a half mile outside of town.
Dalton Gang (Photographed after death)
From The Dalton Brothers & Their
Astounding Career of Crime
, 1892
Emmett Dalton was the only member of the gang to survive. He was carried to Slosson’s Drug Store, and later to Dr. Wells’ office. There was a lot of talk about lynching him, but what probably saved his life more than anything, was the doctor didn’t give him a chance in hell of surviving.
The bodies of the dead gang members were carted to the sheriff’s office, and later placed in four varnished black coffins where they were displayed and photographed so everyone would know what had happened. Some people touched the bodies, as if that would make the experience more real. It is said, “Whenever Grat Dalton’s right arm was lifted a little spurt of blood would jump from the round black hole in his throat.”
The next day the town watched as the undertaker shooed flies away from the bodies, and nailed the lids on the caskets down. The coffins were planted two to a grave in Potter’s Field.
The Galveston Daily News headline on October 6th, 1892 read, “The Dalton Gang has been exterminated—wiped off the face of the earth.”
The only survivor, Emmett Dalton, received a life sentence in the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing. He was pardoned by Governor Ed Hoch in 1907, and lived until 1937. He later became a policeman, and actor, and wrote the story of his life, When the Daltons Rode, published in 1931.