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The Dalton Raid Story


Note: The following excerpts are from three chapters in What Really Happened on October 5, 1892: An Attempt at an Accurate Account of the Dalton Gang and Coffeyville, a comprehensive story of the Dalton Raid written by Lue Diver Barndollar. The book, illustrated with actual photos taken immediately after the raid, was produced in 1992 as a joint effort between the Coffeyville Historical Society and the Dalton Centennial Committee. Other chapters included in the book deal with the area, the family, the Daltons as lawmen, their outlaw career before the Coffeyville raid, and the aftermath of the raid. Annotated endnotes discuss the sources for each chapter. Also included are an afterword and an extensive bibliography.

Available in paperback - $24.95 including shipping and handling. Send orders to Coffeyville Historical Society, PO Box 843, Coffeyville KS 67337.

The Dalton Raid Story
 
The romance which surrounds the Old West – the romance of the self-sufficient individual, the romance of the cowboy and the Indian, the romance of the lawman and the desperado – is perhaps nowhere else so evident as in the story of the Dalton gang raid in Coffeyville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892.

THE APPROACH:
On the afternoon of October 4, 1892, a group of men cut a barbed wire fence and rode their horses across a plowed field, five abreast, to some timber near Onion Creek on a farm located three miles southwest of Coffeyville. They tied their horses to separate trees and prepared to camp.

The men who made up this group from that day on would always be called the Dalton gang. The actual Daltons were Grat, Bob and Emmett. Their cohorts were Bill Power (sometimes known as Tom Evans) and Richard L. (Dick) Broadwell (sometimes known as John Moore or Texas Jack).

October 5 dawned a bright, clear Wednesday. When the men left the timber, two of them looked different. Bob, the leader, was wearing a heavy black moustache and goatee. Grat sported a black moustache and side-whiskers. Emmett had earlier grown a beard to wear as his disguise.

The five men followed their tracks back over the plowed field to the bank of Onion Creek, where the bridge crossed the stream, then headed north to the trail known as Coffeyville’s Eighth Street. Here they turned east, with the three Daltons in front and Power and Broadwell in the rear. When they reached the corner of Eighth and Maple, where the Episcopal Church was located, they first turned south, passing the Long-Bell Lumber Company’s office and then turned east into the alley that runs through Coffeyville's block 50 from Maple to Walnut.

The Dalton gang rode into the alley, dismounted and tied their horses to the fence. The five then walked east toward the plaza, three in front and two in back.

THE RAID:
Before 8:00 a.m. that Wednesday, the streets around the Plaza were filled with people bringing produce to the community and with those on errands typical of a busy town in a rural area.

Aleck McKenna was standing in front of McKenna & Adamson’s dry-goods store when the Dalton gang came out of the alley. He noticed their disguises and recognized one of the Daltons. McKenna watched as the first three men went into the C.M. Condon & Co. Bank’s southwest door and as the other two ran across the street and entered the First National Bank.

From where he was standing, McKenna had a clear view into the front part of the Condon. To his amazement he saw a Winchester pointed toward the cashier’s counter. He quickly called out to the men in the dry goods store that the bank was being robbed.

Citizens seeking to halt the robbery ran to the two hardware stores on the plaza (A.P. Boswell & Co. and Isham Brothers & Mansur) to arm themselves. Both stores, which had firearm inventories, passed out guns and ammunition to people who sought to stop the robbery.

A dozen citizens with rifles and shotguns quickly erected a wagon barricade across the south end of the plaza near Boswell's. Parker L. Williams climbed out on the Barndollar Brothers Store awning so he would have a good field of fire. (The Barndollar store was three doors south of the First National Bank.)

While Coffeyville’s citizens were arming themselves, the Daltons were unaware that the alarm had been given.

A customer, John D. Levan, came into the Condon through the southwest door. The gunmen in the front of the bank told him to lie down on the floor.

Charles T. Carpenter, a Condon officer, hadn’t seen the Daltons as they had come in the southwest door, but turned to see Grat’s Winchester pointed at him. Bill Power went over to the southwest door, and Dick Broadwell went to stand by the southeast door. The gang had not yet seen Babb, the bookkeeper, who quietly moved into the vault.

The cashier, Charles M. Ball, hearing the commotion, came into the front of the bank and found Winchesters covering him and Carpenter. Grat went through the private office and entered the area behind the bank counter. He gave Cashier Ball a two-bushel grain sack, telling him to hold it open, and directed Carpenter to put all the money on the counter and in the cash drawer into the sack, which he did.

Once the Condon cash from the counter and the money drawer was in the sack, Grat asked for any other currency and the gold. He ordered Ball and Carpenter into the vault and, as they turned to enter, he discovered Babb. Grat cursed the young bookkeeper and told him to come out from behind the bookrack with his hands up.

Grat then ordered Ball to open a burglarproof chest standing in the vault, but Ball said that it was on a time-lock setting and could not be opened until 9:30. (Actually the time lock had been set for 8:00 a.m., and it had gone off at that time). Grat asked, “What time is it now?” Ball, glancing at his watch, said 9:20 (although it was 9:40.) Grat said – fateful statement – “We can wait."

Ball had made up the time-setting ploy because the chest contained over $40,000. When Grat asked how much cash the bank’s books had shown the previous evening, Ball replied $4,000, all of which was now in the sack. Ball went on to say that there was nothing in the chest with the time lock except small change; the bank had ordered some currency, but it had not yet arrived.

While that was going on in the Condon, Bob and Emmett Dalton in the First National Bank, were having better luck, though they too had no idea that the alarm had been given. When Bob and Emmett had entered, three customers – J.H. Brewster, A.W. Knotts and C.L. Hollingsworth – were in the bank. Jim E.S. Boothby, another customer, had stepped into the bank a moment or two after the robbers. Seeing what was going on, he started to back out of the bank; one of the Daltons, waving his rifle, motioned him inside.

Leaving Emmett on guard in the front area of the bank with the customers, and with Cashier Thomas G. Ayres and Teller W. H. Shepard, Bob went through a hall into the private office in the rear of the bank where Bert S. Ayres, the young bookkeeper, was at his desk. Bob ordered Ayres to go to the front of the bank where the vault was located and to hand over the money. When Ayres didn’t move quickly enough, both Daltons swore at him and threatened to shoot him. The bookkeeper handed over the money on the counter and that in the cash drawer; then Bob ordered him to get the money from the safe. The bookkeeper said that he did not know the combination.

Cashier Ayres then went to the safe and returned with some money, which he put in the grain sack the Daltons had carried in with them. Bob asked if they now had all the money. The Cashier said there was still some gold in the vault and asked if they also wanted that. Bob said yes, that they wanted every cent, so the Cashier hurriedly got that for him.

Bob, obviously not convinced that he had all the gold, entered the vault, opened the safe door and removed two more packages of money, each containing $5,000. Angrily, Bob threw the packages into the money sack, which now contained about $21,000.

Making the three bank employees go out in front of the counter, Bob and Emmett ordered the three bankers and the four customers to leave by the front door.

Just as the bank personnel and the bank customers reached the sidewalk, bootmaker George Cubine, with his Winchester, and American Express agent C.S. Cox, with a revolver, fired from the doorway of the drug store at Bob and Emmett in the front door of the First National. (Rammel Brothers Drug was immediately north of the First National and across the street east from the Condon.) Neither shot hit the Daltons, but they jumped back into the bank. Two of the bank employees, Bert Ayres and Shepard, also retreated into the comparative safety of the bank building. Cashier Ayres ran on out the front door of the bank and into Isham’s. There he grabbed a rifle and moved to stand in the north door of the hardware store.

At this point some of the citizen defenders opened fire on the Condon, shattering the plate glass windows. There, Power and Broadwell got busy, each firing from four to six times at citizens outside the bank. The bankers and the two customers stretched out on the floor to avoid the bullets that flew everywhere as the citizens in front of Boswell’s fired about 80 shots into the bank. Power was heard to say that he’d been hit and couldn’t use his arm, that he couldn’t shoot any longer. Grat then ordered Ball to open the sack and give him only the currency. Ball, emptying the sack on the floor, heard a bullet from outside pass close to his head; he hurriedly handed the currency over to Grat, who stuffed it in his vest.

In the First National, Bob moved back to the bank front door while Emmett, holding his Winchester under one arm, tied a string around the opening of the money sack. Bob took aim and fired, his shot hitting defender Charles Gump on his gun hand. Friends helped the wounded man back into Isham’s. Another Isham employee, T. Arthur Reynolds, taking a rifle he had grabbed from inventory, ran out onto the sidewalk and began shooting at the southeast door of the Condon. A shot from the outlaws then struck Reynolds on his right foot. Friends helped him back into Isham’s too.

Bob and Emmett told Shepard to open the back door of the First National for them, and they moved toward that door. At about the same time, carrying a pistol, Lucius M. Baldwin, a young employee of Read's store, went out the back door of Isham’s into the alley running behind Isham's and the bank. Both Bob and Emmett leveled their rifles at him and ordered him to stop. However, Baldwin continued to move forward. Bob raised his rifle and fired. The bullet hit Baldwin in the left chest and passed through his body. The Daltons ran to the north entrance of the alley, where it entered Eighth Street. Friends carried Baldwin into Isham’s. There were now three wounded citizens in Isham’s, all bleeding profusely.

Emmett, carrying the money sack, ran in front of Bob, who kept his rifle at the ready. When they reached Eighth Street, they turned west toward Union. At the corner of Union and Eighth, they glanced south and fired two shots in that direction.

Bob and Emmett continued west on Eighth, reaching the middle of the intersection of Eighth and Union. From there they could see Cubine, with his Winchester ready, standing in the doorway of Rammel’s Drug Store, looking south toward the First National. Four shots were fired from the intersection, about 40 or 50 yards away, and Cubine fell dead, shot in the back. He had one bullet through his heart, one in his thigh and a third in an ankle. The fourth bullet went through the plate glass window of the drug store.

At about the time Bob and Emmett reached Eighth Street, Grat, in the Condon, finished stuffing the money into his vest and ran out the Condon’s southwest door and headed for the alley, his companions following. Outside the Condon, Grat, Power and Broadwell found themselves caught in a crossfire between the men at Isham’s and the men on the south side of the plaza in front of Boswell’s.

As their partners were leaving the Condon, Bob and Emmett finished crossing Union at Eighth and began mounting the steps to the raised sidewalk at the corner. Seeing Thomas Ayres in the north door of Isham’s, Bob took careful aim and, from about 75 yards away, fired. The bullet entered below Ayres’s left eye and came out at the base of his skull. George Picker quickly pressed his thumb over Ayres' spouting blood, undoubtedly saving his life.

Just as Ayres fell, Grat and his two companions from the Condon reached the alley opening. Before Ayres could be pulled to safety, the fleeing gang fired nine shots into Isham’s.

As Emmett and Bob turned left from Eighth into the north/south alley, they ran into 14 year-old Robert L. Wells Jr., who was holding a .22 pistol. One of the outlaws tapped the lad with this rifle; the other cursed at him and told him to run home or he was liable to get hurt. David Stewart Elliott, the Journal editor, writing soon after the raid, commented “The boy was not slow in obeying the command."

THE ALLEY:
When Grat, Broadwell and Power left the Condon, they ran directly into the line of fire from both the men at Isham’s and those at Boswell’s. Grat and Power received serious wounds before they had retreated twenty steps. Finally the outlaws from the Condon made it to the east/west alley and were lost to the sight of the men at Boswell’s. The men near Isham’s still had a relatively good field of fire.

At about the time that the three outlaws from the Condon reached the east/west alley, Bob and Emmett were running south from Eighth Street through the alley that divided the north half of block 50. Near the junction of the two alleys, they saw F.D. Benson climbing through a rear window of Slosson & Co.’s drug store. Bob fired at him, but his bullet hit the window.

In the alley, wounded outlaw Power tried to take refuge in the rear door of a store, but the door was locked. Clinging to his rifle, he staggered west down the alley to his horse. Then another shot hit him in the back, and he fell dead beside his horse.

Grat, using the cover of an oil tank, reached the stable west of the jail. Liveryman John Kloehr, Carey A. Seamen – a barber – and Marshal Charles T. Connelly were on the south side of the plaza when the gang reached the alley.

As the three defenders hurried west toward Kloehr's livery establishment (which opened onto the alley), Connelly said he needed to get a gun. The Marshal ran into the Swisher Brothers Machine Shop, a short distance west on Ninth, and borrowed a rifle. He then hurried across Ninth to a vacant lot that opened on the alley. When he entered the alley, his back was toward Grat, who raised his rifle to his side and fired without taking aim. Connelly fell forward, dying.

Grat then tried to reach his horse. He passed the Marshal’s body and turned to face his attackers, trying to use his rifle. Kloehr fired another shot, which hit Grat in the throat and broke his neck.

Hit as he entered the east/west alley, Bob staggered across it and sat down on a pile of curbstones stacked near the jail. While sitting there, he fired several times, but the bullets went wild.

A lull occurred after Grat and Power fell, so Broadwell crawled out of hiding, mounted his horse and rode away. A bullet from Kloehr’s rifle and a load of shot from Seaman’s shotgun hit him. Bleeding and dying, he hung on to his horse and managed to get away from the fight scene, only to fall from his horse, dead, some blocks away.

Bob spotted John Kloehr inside the fence at the back of his livery business. Bob tried to raise his rifle to his shoulder but could not get it up to aim. His shot went wide. Bob managed to stand and move to the stable west of the jail where, leaning against the corner, he fired two more shots. A shot from Kloehr’s rifle then struck Bob in the chest, and he fell to the ground.

Emmett, still carrying the grain sack with approximately $21,000 of the First National Bank’s money, had managed to escape unhurt up to this time. The horses belonging to Bob and Power had been between Emmett and the defenders; both horses were killed by shots intended for Emmett. Finally he reached his horse. A half-dozen shots went in his direction as he attempted to mount. Wounded in the right arm and in the left hip and groin, Emmett managed to get in his saddle.

All accounts agree that Emmett, still clinging to the sack containing the First National Bank money, chose not to ride away. Instead, he rode back to where Bob was lying, reached down his hand, and tried to lift his dying or dead brother onto the horse with him. Elliott’s account said Bob whispered, “It’s no use.” Then Seaman fired both barrels of his shotgun at Emmett’s back, and he fell from the horse.

At last came the cry: “They are all down!”

The aftermath of the raid may be found in the book.

Note: The above excerpts are used with written permission from Lue Diver Barndollar, author of What Really Happened on October 5, 1892: An Attempt at an Accurate Account of the Dalton Gang and Coffeyville, a comprehensive story of the Dalton Raid. The book, illustrated with actual photos taken immediately after the raid, was produced in 1992 as a joint effort between the Coffeyville Historical Society and the Dalton Centennial Committee. Other chapters included in
the book deal with the area, the family, the Daltons as lawmen, their outlaw career before the Coffeyville raid, and the aftermath of the raid. Annotated endnotes discuss the sources for each chapter. Also included are an afterword and an extensive bibliography.

Available in paperback - $24.95 including shipping and handling. Send orders to Coffeyville Historical Society, PO Box 843, Coffeyville KS 67337.


 


 

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