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Reading 3: The People of Coffeyville Say "Enough!"
On Friday, October 7, 1892, the [Coffeyville] Journal published a detailed account of the Dalton Gang's last battle that had taken place two days before:
DALTONS! The Robber Gang Meet Their Waterloo in Coffeyville. The Outlaws Beaten at Their Own Game.
The fifth of October, 1892, will be marked in the history of the city of Coffeyville, in fact in the current history of the country, as the date on which one of the most remarkable occurrences of the age took place. Between 9:30 and 10:00 on Wednesday morning, [five men], armed to the teeth and apparently disguised, rode boldly [into town]. They entered an alley and hitched their horses to the fence. They quickly formed into a sort of military line, three in front and two in the rear. Aleck McKenna was in front of his place of business when the men came out of the alley, and they passed within five feet of where he was standing. He recognized one of them as a member of the Dalton family. The men quickened their pace and three of them went into C. M. Condon & Co.'s bank while two ran directly across the street to the First National bank. The next thing that greeted Mr. McKenna's eyes was a Winchester pointed toward the cashier's counter in the [Condon] bank. He called out that "the bank was being robbed." The cry was taken up and quickly passed from lip to lip all around the square. The unwelcome visitors in this bank were in plain view of a score or more people on the plaza.
Grat Dalton, disguised by a black moustache and side whiskers, led the raid on Condon and Co.'s bank. He sternly commanded the clerk to hand over the cash on hand, and urged him to be quick about it. The robber gathered up the funds and carelessly stuffed them in the inside of his vest. One of the other men passed into the office. He ordered Mr. C. M. Ball, the cashier, to bring the money out of the safe. Mr. Ball told him that the time lock was on and that he could not get into the money chest. The fellow told him that he would have to get into it, or he would be compelled to kill him. [The robber] inquired how soon the time lock would open. Mr. Ball told him that it was set for 9:45. "That is only three minutes yet, and I will wait," replied the intruder. Before the three minutes had expired, firing began on the outside of the bank, and the bullets began to come through the plate glass windows. All three men rushed out in the direction of the alley where their horses were hitched.
It may be stated in this connection, that Mr. Ball's story about the time lock was purely fictitious. It was set for eight o'clock and had opened at that hour. The fact that there was over forty thousand dollars in the chest influenced the cool headed cashier to lie to the burglar.
Bob Dalton, the acknowledged leader of the outfit, disguised by false moustache and goatee, accompanied by his youngest brother, Emmett, entered the First National bank. They covered the teller and the cashier with their Winchesters and, addressing the cashier by name, directed him to hand over all the money in the bank. The cashier very deliberately handed over the currency and gold on the counter, making as many deliveries as possible, in order to secure delay in hope of help arriving. The money [was] stuffed into a common grain sack and carefully tied up. [At the sound of] a shot from outside, [the bandits went] out through the back door of the bank. Just at this juncture, Lucius M. Baldwin came out of Isham's hardware story. Bob Dalton drew up his Winchester, fired, and Baldwin fell dying in the alley. Bob Dalton raised his gun and fired in the direction of the bank, and George Cubine, a man who had been his acquaintance and friend in former years, fell dead. Reaching the middle of the street, he fired another shot, and Charles Brown fell. Bob Dalton raised his gun and fired the fourth shot. His victim this time was Thomas Ayers, cashier of the First National bank. Emmett Dalton had run ahead of Bob with the grain sack containing over $21,000 over his shoulder. Bob and Emmett joined Grat Dalton and his party in the alley. It was at this point, in this now historic alley, that the daring highwaymen met their doom.
In the meantime, as many citizens as could so do, had procured arms and secured positions where they could command the point of retreat of the highwaymen. H. H. Isham and L. A. Deitz had stationed themselves behind two cook stoves near the door of the hardware store. A dozen men with Winchesters and shot guns made a barricade of some wagons. The robbers had to run the gauntlet of three hundred feet with their backs to a dozen Winchesters in the hands of men who knew how to use them. The firing was rapid and incessant for about three minutes, when the cry went up; "They are all down." Several men who had been pressing close after the robbers sprang into the alley and covering them with their guns ordered them to hold up their hands. One hand went up in a feeble manner. Three of the robbers were dead and the fourth helpless. Between the bodies of two of the dead highwaymen, lying upon his face, was Marshal T. Connelly, the bravest of all the brave men who had joined in resisting the terrible raiders in their attempt to rob the banks. Dead and dying horses and smoking Winchesters on the ground added to the horrors of the scene. Tearing the disguises from the faces, the ghastly features of Gratton and Bob Dalton, former residents of Coffeyville and well know to many of our citizens, were revealed. The other dead body proved to be that of Tom Evans, whilst the wounded man was Emmett Dalton, the youngest brother of the two principals of the notorious gang.
It was well known that one of the party had escaped, and a posse was hastily organized and started in pursuit. [In] a half mile, they came upon the bandit lying [dead] beside the road. He proved to be John Moore, the "Texas Jack" of the gang. His proper name was Richard Broadwell, and he was one of the most experienced and coolest of the gang. The dead raiders were put in the city jail.
Not over fifteen guns were actively engaged in the fight of Wednesday on both sides and the engagement lasted about ten minutes. Eight persons were killed and three wounded.
The unfounded reports that have been sent out by excited newspaper correspondents to the effect that the citizens were anticipating a visit from the Dalton gang is a canard of the worst kind, and is a reflection upon the courage and promptness to act on the part of our people. When the robbers were discovered, there was not a single, solitary armed man anywhere upon the square or in the neighborhood. Even Marshal Connelly had lain his pistol aside. Every gun that was used, with the exception of that brought into action by George Cubine, was procured in the hardware store and loaded and brought into play under the pressure of the great exigency that was upon the people. The citizens of Coffeyville who were killed in the terrible engagement with the Daltons were each one engaged in the fight, and were not innocent bystanders. Our people are adept in the business of resisting law-breakers, and they will do their duty, though it costs blood.
The smoke of Wednesday's terrific battle with the bandits has blown aside, but the excitement occasioned by the wonderful event has increased until it has gained a fever heat. The trains have brought hundreds of visitors to the scene of the bloody conflict between a desperate and notorious gang of experienced highwaymen and a brave and determined lot of citizens who had the nerve to preserve their rights and protect their property under the most trying circumstances.
The Dalton gang is no more, and travelers through the Indian Territory can go right along without fear now. The country, and the railroads and express companies especially, can breathe easier now that the Daltons are wiped out. The country is rid of the desperate gang, but the riddance cost Coffeyville some of its best blood.
Questions for Reading 3
1. What alerted Aleck McKenna to what was going on? What action did he take?
2. Why was a three minute delay so critical?
3. Why were the townspeople able to respond to McKenna's alarm so quickly?
4. Why do you think the author of this account is so anxious to deny reports that the citizens of Coffeyville were expecting the Daltons?
5. Why do you think the headline said that the Dalton's were "beaten at their own game"?
6. What happened after the robbery? Why?
7. The account says that the citizens of Coffeyville were "defending their rights and protecting their property." What do you think that means?
Reading 3 was excerpted from an article published in The [Coffeyville] Journal, on Friday, October 7, 1892.