Jesse James

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Key individuals in the lawless West

Jesse James

Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri on 5th September, 1847. His father left home as a child in search of gold in California and never returned.

The James family were owners of slaves and supported the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. In 1862 William Quantrill established a band of guerilla fighters.
As well as attacking Union troops the Quantrill Raiders also robbed mail coaches, murdered supporters of Abraham Lincoln and persecuted communities in Missouri and Kansas that Quantrill considered to be anti-Confederate. The gang also gained a reputation for murdering members of the Union Army that the gang had taken prisoner.
On 21st August, 1863, the Quantrill Raiders committed one of the worst atrocities of the Civil War when it attacked the town of Lawrence. During the raid Quantrill's gang killed 150 inhabitants and set fire to over 180 buildings. After the war Jessie and his brother Frank James became outlaws and established a gang,
On 13th February, 1866, the gang robbed a bank at Liberty, Missouri. Over the next few years the brothers took part in twelve bank robberies, seven train robberies, four stage-coach robberies and various other criminal acts. During these crimes at least eleven citizens were killed by the gang. As well as their home state of Missouri they were also active in West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota.
On 7th September, 1876, the gang attempted to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota. During the raid Jessie James killed the cashier. Members of the town decided to fight back and they opened fire on the gang. Two members of the gang were killed and many wounded.Jessie James and Frank James were also wounded but managed. After this disaster Jessie decided to go into hiding and he also began to recruit a new gang.
On 8th October, 1879, Jessie James and his gang held up the Chicago & Alton Railroad at Glendale, Missouri and stole $6,000. This was followed by other raids, in one, at Blue Cut, Missouri, in September, 1881, the gang killed the conductor and a pensioner. The governor of Missouri, Thomas Crittenden, now responded by offering a reward of $10,000 for the capture of Jessie James.
Robert Ford, a member of the Jessie James gang, contacted Governor Crittenden and offered his services in order to gain this reward. On 3rd April, 1882, Ford visited Jessie James in his home and when he stood on a chair to straighten a picture on the wall, he shot him in the back of the head. Ford was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Two hours later he was pardoned by Crittenden and given his reward.

Billy the Kid

Henry McCarty (Billy the Kid) was born in New York City on 17th September, 1859. He acquired the nickname Billy the Kid when his mother died.

In 1875 Billy was arrested and charged with being involved in robbing a Chinese laundry. He managed to escape through a fireplace chimney and fled to Arizona where he became involved in horse stealing. In August 1877 he killed Frank Cahill, an army blacksmith at Fort Grant. He was arrested but once again escaped and eventually found work with John Tunstall.

Tunstall was murdered on 18th February, 1878 which started the Lincoln County War. Apparently at Tunstall's funeral Billy the Kid swore: "I'll get every son-of-a-bitch who helped kill John if it's the last thing I do."
Billy the Kid joined the Regulators. Over the next few months this group killed Sheriff William Brady, George Hindman, Frank Baker, William Morton, Buckshot Roberts and others who they claimed they had been involved in the killing of Tunstall.
On 19th July, 1878, the Regulators, were besieged by Sheriff George Peppin and a group of his men. Billy the Kid managed to escape.
When Lewis Wallace took office as Governor of New Mexico on 1st October 1878, he proclaimed an amnesty for all those involved in the bitter feud. However, after Billy the Kid surrendered, he was told he would be charged with the killing of William Brady. Billy the Kid escaped from custody and went to see John Chisum, a prominent figure in the Lincoln County War. Billy believed he was owed $500 but Chisum refused to pay. Billy the Kid responded by promising to steal enough cattle to make up this sum Billy's gang also stole from other cattlemen and became a serious problem in Lincoln County.
In 1880 Pat Garrett was elected sheriff of Lincoln County. He immediately attempted to deal with the problems being caused by Billy the Kid. In December 1880, Garrett shot dead two of the Kid's gang and soon afterwards Billy the Kid and two others were captured by Garratt.
Billy the Kid was found guilty of murdering William Brady and was held in Lincoln jail while waiting to be executed on 13th May, 1881. However, Billy killed two guards (J.W. Bell and Bob Olinger) and escaped while Pat Garrett was away collecting taxes. News eventually reached Garratt that Billy the Kid was hiding out at the abandoned Fort Sumner. With his deputies, John Poe and Thomas McKinney, Garratt headed for Fort Sumner, a place 140 miles west of Lincoln. On 14th July, 1881, Garratt killed Billy the Kid during a shoot-out in a darkened room at the home of Pete Maxwell.
It was later claimed that Billy the Kid had killed 21 men in his 21 years of life. However, most experts believe he was only responsible for nine deaths.

Apache Kid

Ski-be-nan-ted (Apache Kid) was born on the San Carlos Reservation in about 1860. He worked in the army.
In 1887 the Apache Kid was left in charge of the guardhouse at San Carlos. He left his post in order to hunt down a man he believed was responsible for the death of his father. On his return to the guardhouse there was an argument with Al Sieber. During the dispute someone (not the Apache Kid) shot Sieber in the leg. The Apache Kid escaped but later surrendered to the authorities.
Apache Kid and three others were accused of attempted murder. He was found guilty and was sentenced to seven years in Yuma Territorial Prison. While being transported to the prison the Apache Kid escaped. During the fighting that took place three guards, Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Middleton and W. A. Holmes were killed.
Over the next few years the Apache Kid was accused of various crimes. However, if is impossible to determine how many of these he actually committed. A $5,000 reward for him, dead or alive, was promised by the Arizona territorial legislature. This did not result in his capture and after 1894 reports of his crimes came to an end. Some sources claimed he died at this time while others argue he had crossed into Mexico and lived to an old age.

Clay Allison

Clay Allison was born in Wayne County, Tennessee, in about 1841. He joined the Confederate Army and served under Nathan B. Forrest as a scout and spy. He was captured at Shiloh but managed to escape.
After the war Allison moved to Texas and took herds to Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico. A heavy-drinking cowboy he was accused of killing Chunk Colbert in Colorado and Francisco Griego in New Mexico. He also wounded several others before killing Deputy Sheriff Charles Faber at Las Animas in 1877. One newspaper claimed that Allison had killed 15 men.
On 3rd July, 1887 Clay Allison fell off the freight wagon he was driving.He fractured his skull and later died from his injuries.

Emmett Dalton

Emmett Dalton was born in 1866. His parents, Lewis and Adeline Dalton, had fifteen children.
Emmett, Bob and Grattan also served briefly as lawman. It was later claimed that the men were forced to leave the service after becoming involved in rustling.
In 1891 Emmett Dalton, Bob Dalton, Bill Dalton and Grattan Dalton robbed a train just outside of Los Angeles. George Radcliffe was killed during the raid and Grattan was captured. He received a 20 year sentence but later escaped. Over the next 18 months the Dalton gang robbed banks and trains throughout Oklahoma.
After the gang stole $17,000 robbed a train at Pryor Creek on 14th July, 1892, a prize of $5,000 a head on the Daltons.
On 5th October, 1892, the gang decided to rob two banks in their home town of Coffeyville. Emmett and Bob went into the First National Bank while Gratton Dalton, Bill Powers and Dick Bradwell dealt with the Condon Bank. The men were spotted by a passerby, Aleck McKenna, who quickly alerted other members of the town.

The men of Coffeyville armed themselves with rifles and waited for the Dalton gang to leave the banks. In the shoot-out that followed, four members of the gang, Bob DaltonGratton Dalton, Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell were killed. Four local men, Lucius Baldwin, George Cubine, Charles Connelly and Charles Brown, also died.

Emmett Dalton was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released after fourteen years. Emmett Dalton died in Los Angeles on 13th July, 1937.

Bill Doolin

William Doolin was born in Arkansas, in 1858. Doolin moved to Logan County, Oklahoma in 1881 where he became acowboy. He worked for a series of ranchers and developed a reputation as a trustworthy and a capable worker.
Doolin was apparently a law-abiding citizen until he attended a party at Coffeyville. Kansas had banned the consumption of alcohol and when the law turned up to confiscate the beer Doolin opened fire wounding two officers. Doolin fled from the scene of the shooting and soon afterwards joined the gang led by Bob Dalton.
On 5th October, 1892, the gang planned to rob a bank at Coffeyville but Doolin's horse went lame and he did not take part in the crime. It was a lucky let off for Doolin as three of the gang were killed during a fierce gunfight that took place during the robbery.
Doolin now formed his own gang that included William Dalton and robbed a train at Caney (14th October, 1892) and a bank at Spearville (1st November, 1892).
After marrying Edith Ellsworth on 4th March, 1893, Doolin robbed a train on 10th June, 1893. During the raidChris Madsen shot Doolin in the leg. He recovered from his wounds and on 29th January, 1894, Doolin robbed a bank at Pawnee. This was followed by further robberies at Woodward, Oklahoma (13th March, 1894) and Southwest City, Missouri (10th May, 1894). During the Southwest City raid, J. C. Seaborn, a former state senator was murdered.
On 3rd April, 1895 the Doolin gang robbed a train at Dover, Oklahoma. He then tried to live a quiet life in New Mexico but returned to criminal activity the following year. Bill Tilghman arrested Doolin at Eureka Springs, Arkansas on 15th January, 1896. He was taken to Guthrie but managed to escape from jail on 5th July, 1896.
William Doolin was killed during a shootout with  on 25th August, 1896.

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