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Can anyone tell me as much as they know about the dalton brothers? Answered

I'm doing an English assignment, and I've chosen to do it on my great-great-great-uncles, the Dalton Brothers, scourge of the Wild West. But all the views are biased to them being the bad guys, and I need to prove everyone wrong, so can someone please supply some information about them? Thanks!


From what I've read, Frank (the oldest brother), was a Deputy Marshall and was killed in the line of duty (trying to apprehend a horse thief). The younger brothers, Bob, Grat and Emmett, also became lawmen but in 1890, after they were unpaid for their work as lawmen, they apparently went on to become outlaws. Their first offenses, in contrast to today, wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but things were different back then; and being charged with a liquor offense or stealing horses (a capital offense), was considered serious at that time. It was after these accusations that the remaining Dalton brothers formed their gang. They had associated with Jessie James (and his gang), during those years that they were robbing trains; and its believed that Bob wanted to "upstage" Jessie James, and so they decided to rob a bank. Unfortunately for them, the townspeople knew they were coming and when they exited the bank, a shootout started, and a number of men were killed including Bob and Grat. Emmett was shot several times but survived and was sentenced to life in a Kansas prison. He served 14 years of that sentence and was pardoned. He then moved to California and died in 1937 at the age of 66.

I'm not sure how you can "spin" the story to excuse their actions, but at the time, who would you complain to if you weren't paid for your job? There was some suggestion that they originally planned to rob a few trains and then leave the Indian Territory, but pressure from other non-family gang members kept them going instead. It's also important to remember that a story (however fictional), is often more "interesting" when the characters are the "bad guys", so they may have been painted that way (despite the fact they started on the side of the law).

If I were you, I would look into archived newspapers and whatever documents you can find through museums, court records etc. through Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and even California.

Good luck with the search!

You are a gem, canucksgirl. Thank you for that info, and I will surely try your ideas out, but I can't search that many newspapers and museums because I live in Australia... Thanks for your ideas of them being pressured, that'll give a real twist to my assignment!

You are welcome! Good luck with the research and the assignment. ;-)

One of my favourites. There are some bitingly accurate lyrics in some of those songs.

I'm from Coffeyville, Kansas and grew up hearing about the Daltons. There is a museum in Coffeyville that includes an exhibit of the bank robbery and killings. There is a headstone in the cemetery that Emmett erected for his brothers. It seems that in that era, there were several who switched from lawman to outlaw and back. The robbery was deliberately planned. They rode into town in disguises of the day. They shot and killed people. They did do some bad things. I googled "books written about the Dalton gang" and found several links that you may find interesting.

My dad told me they had a train station, and the government took it, and then they weren't paid, and they turned. No-one else says anything about the station, so I'm confused as to what to write down... Does anyone know ANYTHING about a train station?

They may have started as lawmen at a train station. During that time, train robberies were pretty common, so that might be how they started; and perhaps in poetic (in)justice, they took to robbing trains to get paid for what they were owed? It's really hard to say, but there may be records kept on such things, but it'll require some research.

Your not likely to find anyone around who knew them. The only information your likely to find will be what history has already recorded. Unless your family has some long lost journals that the brothers kept.

Unfortunately, my father hasn't been in contact with his family for over 20 years, and I've been told they're just as bad as the Daltons, so maybe I should just show them as the bad guys...

You may have to face it, maybe they WERE bad guys.

+1, there is no reason that anyone would be holding onto any info that would exonerate them. Unless you and your family can dig up something so far undiscovered then history is history, you can't change it.

Have you tried wikipedia?