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Old West Legends IconOLD WEST LEGENDS

The Dalton Brothers - Lawmen & Outlaws

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Though the Dalton brothers are best known for making their livings robbing trains and banks in Kansas and Oklahoma, this was not always the case, as one of them -- Frank Dalton lived and died a heroic death as a lawman. During Frank's tenure as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, he would often work with brothers Bob and Grat, aggressively pursuing outlaws in Kansas and in  Indian Territory. Unfortunately, for Frank's younger brothers that would later change, as they became notorious outlaws, best known for their numerous robberies and being killed in the Coffeyville, Kansas raid.

 

The Dalton brothers were part of a large family headed by parents Adaline Younger Dalton and James Lewis Dalton. Lewis Dalton came west from Kentucky to Missouri during the late 1840’s and in the 1850’s he was trading horses and running a saloon in Westport, Missouri (now Kansas City) when he married Adeline. Adeline’s brother was the father of Bob, Cole and James Younger.

 

Most of their fifteen children were born in Missouri before the family migrated to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1882.

 

Frank Dalton, U.S. Deputy Marshal

Frank Dalton, U.S. Deputy Marshal

(1859-1887)

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!

In 1886, the family moved again to a place near Coffeyville, Kansas. In this rough and wild area, the Dalton brothers inherited a tradition of violence on the bloody ground of the Missouri -Kansas border, where Quantrill’s raiders and other guerilla bands operated during and after the Civil War.

When the Oklahoma Territory opened for settlement in 1889, the family headed south again. However, Lewis died along the way leaving Adaline to raise the younger children alone. Adaline continued on, placing a claim on the banks of Kingfisher Creek in Indian Territory, where initially she and the family lived in a dugout. By this time the older Dalton brothers were on their own.

The Family Hero - Frank Dalton 

Frank Dalton (1859-1887) - The older brother of the infamous Daltons who would later form the Dalton Gang, Frank was always an upstanding citizen. Born in Missouri on June 8, 1859, he was commissioned as a U.S. Deputy Marshal at Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1882. During his short tenure as a Deputy Marshal, he was involved in a number of dangerous episodes and was described as "one of the most brave and efficient officers on the force."  Frank even enlisted his brothers, Bob and Graton Dalton, who would later become the leading members of the Dalton Gang, to also become lawmen and work for him on several posses as he rounded up outlaws. His career and his life would end on November 27, 1887 when he and Deputy Marshal James R. Cole, went to the Cherokee Nation to arrest a man named Dave Smith on charges of horse theft and whiskey running. 

Dalton made a fatal mistake when he expected no trouble from Smith and approached the camp where Dave Smith, his brother-in-law, Lee Dixon, Dixon's wife, and a man named William Towerly were camped near the Arkansas River. The outlaws were not to be taken easily and as the two deputies approached the camp,  Smith immediately shot Dalton in the chest, driving the officer to the ground. Deputy Cole, reacting quickly, returned the fire, killing Dave Smith.

Though one of the outlaws then hit Cole in the side, the officer continued to fire, hitting both Dixon and his wife. Cole, believing that Frank was dead, escaped and made his way back to Fort Smith for assistance. However, Dalton was still alive and after Cole left the area, Will Towerly, a noted murderer and horse thief, approached Frank, who was conscious and begged Towerly not to shoot him as he was already mortally wounded. However, the outlaw blasted him in the head twice with his Winchester before he, too, made his escape.

 

 

Fort Smith, Arkansas Courthouse and Jail

Historic Fort Smith, Arkansas Courthouse and Jail.

 

By the time Deputy Cole returned with a posse, Smith, Dalton, and a Dixon's wife were already dead. Lee Dixon, though seriously wounded was alive and soon transported to Fort Smith, Arkansas where he died before he could stand trial. 

Towerly’s escape was brief, as lawmen were quickly on his trail. Locating him near his home at Atoka, Choctaw Nation, he was shot and killed by a man named William Moody, who was assisting another deputy marshal in his arrest.

Frank Dalton was just 28 years-old at the time of his death. He was buried in the Elmwood Cemetary in Coffeyville, Kansas, and is remembered by the U.S. Marshal's service on their Roll Call of Honor.

 

 

 

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A great BIG thank you to our readers and customers!Dave and Kathy, owners of Legends of America, and the only "employees" of this small business, want to send out a big Thank You to all of our readers and customers! It's your support of Legends' General Store and our Photo Shop that keeps us alive and continuing to provide our website content, newsletter, and blog for free. We also love your feedback on our guestbook  and the contributions to our pages that many of you provide.

 

We just can't tell you how much we appreciate you! Thanks a whole big bunch!

 

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