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Desperados & Cow-Punchers: the Making of the Western Frontier—The Story of the Outlaw and The Passing of the Frontier

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Desperados & Cow-Punchers: the Making of the Western Frontier—The Story of the Outlaw and The Passing of the Frontier
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Emerson Hough
Date Published: 2018/07
Page Count: 324
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-729-0
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-728-3

Two riveting accounts of bad men, gunslingers and cowboys

This book contains two accounts of the American Western Frontier—the ‘Old Wild West’—by Emerson Hough, who was a well-known and prolific writer of highly regarded western stories and historical novels and an expert on the reality of those exciting times. He was a colleague of George Bird Grinnell who is also in the first rank of Western frontier historians and Hough’s work won the praise of President Theodore Roosevelt who was an enthusiastic frontiersman. The first, and longest, book in this special Leonaur edition is about the perennially popular subject of Western outlaws. Hough describes the activities of infamous desperados including the most infamous locations of their dark deeds from California to Texas. The careers of several ‘bad-men’ are charted, including the lawman/outlaw Henry Plummer, the killer-cannibal Boone Helm, the gun-fighter Joseph (Jack) Slade and, of course, the incomparable Wild Bill Hickok. Several range wars also come under Hough’s scrutiny including the Lincoln County and Stevens County Wars. The book includes notable anecdotes of gun-fights including ‘the Fight of Buckskin Roberts’, one of Pat Garrett’s man-hunts and others. The second book in this edition concerns those westerners who carved out a new nation including the pathfinders, the pioneers, the homesteaders, the miners, the soldiers in ‘dirty-shirt blue’ who fought the American Indian tribes and the ‘cattle barons’ and cowboys who drove the great herds across the plains to the rail-heads of the transcontinental railroad.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket; our hardbacks are cloth bound and feature gold foil lettering on their spines and fabric head and tail bands.

The Dalton family lived in lower Kansas, near Coffeyville, which was situated almost directly upon the border of the Nations. They engaged in farming, and indeed two of the family were respectable farmers near Coffeyville within the last three or four years. The mother of the family still lives near Oklahoma City, where she secured a good claim at the time of the opening of the Oklahoma lands to white settlement. The father, Lewis Dalton, was a Kentucky man and served in the Mexican war.
He later moved to Jackson County, Missouri, near the home of the notorious James and Younger boys, and in 1851 married Adelaide Younger, they removing some years later from Missouri to Kansas. Thirteen children were born to them, nine sons and four daughters. Charles, Henry, Littleton and Coleman Dalton were respected and quiet citizens. All the boys had nerve, and many of them reached office as deputy marshals. Franklin Dalton was killed while serving as deputy United States marshal near Fort Smith, in 1887, his brother Bob being a member of the same posse at the time his fight was made with a band of horse thieves who resisted arrest. Grattan Dalton, after the death of his brother Franklin, was made a deputy United States marshal, after the curious but efficient Western fashion of setting dangerous men to work at catching dangerous men.
He and his posse in 1888 went after a bad Indian, who, in the melee, shot Grattan in the arm and escaped. Grattan later served as United States deputy marshal in Muskogee district, where the courts certainly needed men of stern courage as executives, for they had to deal with the most desperate and fearless class of criminals the world ever knew. Robert R. Dalton, better known as Bob Dalton, served on the posses of his brothers, and soon learned what it was to stand up and shoot while being shot at. He turned out to be about the boldest of the family, and was accepted as the clan leader later on in their exploits. He also was a deputy United States marshal at the dangerous stations of Fort Smith and Wichita, having much to do with the desperadoes of the Nations. He was chief of the Osage police for some time, and saw abundance of violent scenes.
Emmett Dalton was also possessed of cool nerve, and was soon known as a dangerous man to affront. All the boys were good shots, but they seemed to have cared more for the Winchester than the six-shooter in their exploits. In which they were perhaps wise, for the rifle is of course far the surer when it is possible of use; and men mostly rode in that country with rifle under leg. Uncle Sam is obliged to take such material for his frontier peace officers as proves itself efficient in serving processes. A coward may be highly moral, but he will not do as a border deputy. The personal character of some of the most famous Western deputies would scarcely bear careful scrutiny, but the government at Washington is often obliged to wink at that sort of thing. There came a time when it remained difficult longer to wink at the methods of the Daltons as deputies. In one case they ran off with a big bunch of horses and sold them in a Kansas town.
On account of this episode, Grattan, William, and Emmett Dalton made a hurried trip to California. Here they became restless, and went back at their old trade, thinking that no one even on the Pacific Slope had any right to cause them fear. They held up a train in Tulare county and killed a fireman, but were repulsed. Later arrested and tried, William was cleared, but Grattan was sentenced to twenty years in the penitentiary. He escaped from jail before he got to the penitentiary, and rejoined Emmett at the old haunts in the Nations, Emmett having evaded arrest in California. The Southern Pacific railway had a standing offer of $6,000 for the robbers at the time they were killed.
The Daltons were now more or less obliged to hide out, and to make a living as best they could, which meant by robbery. On May 9, 1891, the Santa Fé train was held up at Wharton, Oklahoma Territory, and the express car was robbed, the bandits supposedly being the Daltons. In June of the following year another Santa Fé train was robbed at Red Rock, in the Cherokee strip. The ’Frisco train was robbed at Vinita, Indian Territory. An epidemic of the old methods of the James and Younger bands seemed to have broken out in the new railway region of the Southwest. The next month the Missouri, Kansas and Texas train was held up at Adair, Indian Territory, and a general fight ensued between the robbers and the armed guard of the train, assisted by citizens of the town.
A local physician was killed and several officers and citizens wounded, but none of the bandits was hurt, and they got away with a heavy loot of the express and baggage cars. At Wharton they had been less fortunate, for though they killed the station agent, they were rounded up and one of their men, Dan Bryant, was captured, later killing and being killed by United States Deputy Ed. Short, as mentioned in an earlier chapter. Dick Broadwell joined the Dalton gang about now, and they nearly always had a few members besides those of their own family; their gang being made up and conducted on much the same lines of the James boys gang of Missouri, whose exploits they imitated and used as text for their bolder deeds. In fact, it was the boast of the leader, Bob Dalton, in the Coffeyville raid, that he was going to beat anything the James boys ever did: to rob two banks in one town at the same time.
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