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Outlaw Gangs - Page 2

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Burton Alvord, OutlawAlvord-Stiles Gang (1899) - Led by two ex-lawmen, Burton Alvord and Billy Stiles, this gang of train robbers operated in Arizona Territory at the turn of the century. Some of the members of the gang were were Bravo Juan Yoas, brothers, George and Louis Owens, "Three Fingered Jack" Dunlap, and Bob Brown. Alvord is thought to have died a natural death around 1910 in Central America, where he moved after serving a prison sentence for robbery. Stiles was shot and killed in Nevada in 1908.


Archer Brothers (1880's) - Much like the Reno Brothers had operated two decades earlier, the Archer brothers -- Thomas, Mort, John, and Sam, raided Orange and Marion Counties in Indiana for several years. Though to the outside community, they were seen as respectable farmers and shopkeepers, when their funds ran low they turned "bandit." Regularly robbing stage coaches, trains, and road travelers, their friends and family often protected them against arrest. However, their gig was finally up in March, 1886 when the law found out about their outlaw activities, chased them down, and arrested them. However, before Thomas, Mort, and John could go to trial, vigilantes hanged them. The youngest brother, Sam Archer did go to trial and was found guilty of robbery and murder. He was legally hanged on July 10,1886.


Sam Bass Gang (1877-1878) - When Sam Bass was working as a cowboy, he and three other men drove a large herd up from Texas to Kansas. Once the cattle were sold; however, they decided to keep the cattle owner's money and headed to Deadwood, South Dakota. In no time they had gambled away and the men turned to outlawry. Forming the Black Hills Bandits, they robbed stage coaches and pulled off the Big Springs train robbery in  Nebraska. Sam Bass escaped to Texas, where he formed the Bass Gang who began to rob trains and banks in the Lone Star State. Members of the gang included  Thomas Spotswood, Arkansas Johnson, Frank Jackson, Henry Underwood, Sam Pipes, Seaborn Barnes, and Albert Herndon. In the spring of 1878, the Bass Gang held up two stage coaches and four trains within twenty-five miles of Dallas. The gang quickly found themselves the target of a spirited chase across North Texas by a special company of Texas Rangers. Bass eluded his pursuers until one of his party, Jim Murphy, turned informer. As Bass' band rode south intending to rob a small bank in Round Rock, Texas, Murphy informed the Texas Rangers of Sam's plans. When the gang arrived at the Round Rock bank on July 19, 1878, the Rnagers were waiting and in in the inevitable gunfight, Seaborn Barnes was shot in the head and Bass was severely wounded. Though he made it to his horse and rode out of town, he was found lying helpless in a pasture north of town the next day. He was brought back to Round Rock where he died on July 21st.


Billy the KidBilly the Kid's Gang, aka: The Rustlers (1876-1880) - There were a number of men who threw in with Billy the Kid in his New Mexico exploits during the 1870's. Billy, deeply involved in the Lincoln County War, a territorial dispute in New Mexico, was already a veteran thief, cattle rustler and shootist. However, his outlaw reputation grew during the "war" on the side of the " Regulators " and he soon gathered up a group of other outlaws who helped to perpetuate his criminal pursuits. The core members of the gang, sometimes referred to as the "Rustlers," were Tom O'Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, Tom Pickett, Billy the Kid, "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh, and Billy Wilson.


Of these outlaws, who primarily rustled cattle and horses, as well as passing counterfeit bills and becoming experts at escaping from jail, several of them were killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, but others continued their lives beyond their criminal careers.


Tom "Big Foot" O'Folliard, Billy's second-in-command and a former Regulator was the first to be killed when Sheriff Pat Garrett shot him at Fort Sumner, New Mexico on December 19, 1880. Just five days later, Charlie Bowdre, another former Regulator, was killed by Pat Garrett's posse at Stinking Springs, New Mexico on December 23, 1880. In the end, Garrett tracked down Billy the Kid and killed him on July 14, 1881. History varies on the death of "Dirty Dave" Rudabaugh, a former Dodge City Gang member, who most say was decapitated by citizens at Parral, Mexico on February 18, 1886. Other reports say he died of old age in Oregon in 1928. Billy Wilson, who moved on to Texas after the others were killed was, himself shot by a man named Ed Valentine at Sanderson, Texas on June 14, 1918. However, others say that he actually died of natural cause at New Madrid, Missouri on September 30, 1935. Tom Pickett, another former Dodge City Gang member, died of old age at Winslow, Arizona on May 14, 1934. 




Black Hills Bandits (1876-1877) - Comprised of Sam Bass, Joel Collins, Jack Davis, Tom Nixon, Bill Heffridge and Jim Berry, these outlaws first robbed some seven stage coaches in the Deadwood, South Dakota area. Four of these robberies was directed at the same stage line – the Deadwood Stage. On a fifth attempt on March 25, 1877, the outlaws killed the stage driver, Johnny Slaughter. At the sound of the shot, the horses bolted, running towards Deadwood, some two miles away. Folklore has it that the runaway stage was stopped by none other than Calamity Jane as it entered Deadwood. The gang soon decided that their profits from stage robberies was too low and turned their attention to the more lucrative business of robbing trains. Making their way to the isolated station at Big Springs, Nebraska, their first train robbery took place on September 18, 1877. Capturing the station master, John Barnhart, and destroying the telegraph, they forced him to signal the eastbound express train to stop. At 10:48 p.m., the six bandits boarded the train. Finding only $450 in the mail car safe, they then went to rob the larger safe but it had a time lock preventing it from being opened until the train reached its destination. Though they beat the express messenger brutally in an attempt to get him to open it, the messenger was unable to. However, the outlaws continued to search the train car, finding some wooden boxes, which revealed $60,000 worth of freshly minted $20 gold pieces. Why these were not in the safe is unknown. The bandits then began to systematically rob the train passengers. In the end, they escaped with the $60,000 in freshly minted gold coins, $450.00 from the mail car safe, and about $1,300.00 and four gold watches from the passengers. Splitting the money up, the outlaws separated into pairs, each heading in a different directions. Joel Collins and Bill Heffridge were pursued to Buffalo Station (now Gove), Kansas where they were killed. Jim Berry was captured near his home near Mexico, Missouri. Wounded during the capture, he died two days later. Sam Bass returned to Texas where he formed the Sam Bass Gang. He was killed on July 21, 1878 in an ambush by Texas Rangers at Round Rock, Texas. Tom Nixon and Jack Davis were never apprehended.

Blonger Brothers (1890's-1922) - Louis H. "The Fixer" Blonger led one of the longest running confidence rings in the American West. See Full Article HERE.

Bummers Gang (1855-1860) - Operating in Auraria (now west Denver), Colorado, the Bummers Gang began "raiding" the town in the mid-1850's. Unlike other gangs of the wild west who were robbing banks, trains, and killing folks, this gang was a group of loafers and idlers who were guilty of a number of petty and minor crimes, hence the name "Bummers." Born of the gold rush in the nearby mountains, Denver had become a city bustling with boozers and losers and petty thieving had become a nightly occurrence. Clothes-lines were missing their linen, while farmer's wagons and market places were constantly relieved of their game and provisions. On January 30, 1860, the order-loving citizens had finally had enough after a countryman's wagon was robbed of a large number of turkeys. Suspicions were immediately fastened upon the squad of hard characters who so proudly called themselves the "Bummers." This sparked what would become known as the "Turkey War." A citizens committee determined that the guilty parties where Thomas Clemo, William Todd, alias Chuck-a-luck, William Harvey, and William Karl, alias Buckskin Bill. The Bummers, determined to fight back, marshaled their forces and began to parade the streets with guns and pistols in readiness for bloodthirsty work. In the evening, they began to halt peacable citizens, threatening them with weapons, made talk of burning the town, and fired upon two of the witnesses who had pinpointed the thieves, though neither was hurt. A military company formed earlier in the month was called upon to guard the city during the night, preventing the Bummers from carrying out their threats. Another meeting was held by the citizens where a resolution was passed that several members of the Bummers Gang must leave the city, under threat of hanging. Those pinpointed all headed for parts unknown and the famous "Turkey War" ended.

Burrow Gang (1887-1890) - Reuben "Rube" Burrow, along with his brother Jim, robbed their first train on December 1, 1886 in Bellevue, Texas after Rube's crops had failed in Texas. Though they netted only a few hundred dollars, they soon formed a gang, which included hard cases W.L and Leonard Brock, Henderson Brumley, and Nep Thornton. By early 1888, they had robbed so many trains that they had become the most infamous train robbers since Jesse James, and were pursued by hundreds of lawmen, including the Pinkertons, throughout the south and southwest. That same year, things began to fall apart for the Burrow Gang when Jim Burrow was arrested when he and his brother, Rube, were recognized by a conductor on a train pulling into Nashville, Tennessee. Notifying authorities, lawmen trapped Rube and Jim in a passenger car. Rube shot his way to freedom but Jim was taken into custody and jailed in Texarkana. Later that year, he died in prison of consumption on October 5, 1888. The arrest of Jim; however, didn't deter the rest of the gang as they continued their outlaw activities. Leonard Brockwas arrested on September 26, 1889 and after he was convicted sentenced to a long prison term. However, he committed suicide on November 10, 1890 by jumping from the fourth tier of the cell block. In the meantime, Rube was killed in a gunfight with Dixie Carter in Linden, Alabama on October 7, 1890. Of the other gang members, the fate is unknown.


Clanton Gang, aka: The Cowboys - The Clanton family and their ranch hands were a loosely organized gang of outlaws who operated along the Mexican border, stealing cattle, robbing stage coaches, ambushing teamsters, and committing murder. Before the Earps arrived in Tombstone, Arizona, their unlawful and reckless behavior was unchallenged. Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton and his sons arrived in Arizona Territory in 1873, where they initially were involved in freighting and ranching. However, by the time that brothers, Tom and Frank McLaury became their neighbors in 1878, the Clantons were avidly involved in outlaw pursuits. With "Old Man" Clanton at its helm, the "Cowboys" included his sons, Ike, Billy and Phin; Tom and Frank McLaury, Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Ringo, Pete Spence, and several others, including many who may not have actually participated in their outlaw activities, but supported or overlooked them, such as Sheriff Johnny Behan.


Controlling the territory from Tombstone, Arizona to the Animas Valley of New Mexico, they operated undaunted until Marshal Virgil Earp began to come down on them when he was elected. This, of course, led to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881 where Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp, along with Doc Holliday fought against Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and Billy Claiborne.


When the dust settled, Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton lay dead. While the Earps faired much better, Virgil was shot in the leg, Morgan in the shoulder, and Holliday grazed on the hip. However, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral did not end the feud, as the real death toll began after the fight when both sides began to assassinate key members of the opposing factions.



Newman "Old Man" Clanton was at the helm

of the Clanton Gang, photo about 1880.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!

The main members of the gang were:


Newman Haynes "Old Man" Clanton

Joseph Isaac "Ike" Clanton

Phineas Fray "Phin" Clanton

William "Billy" Clanton

Robert Findley "Frank" McLaury

Thomas Clark "Tom" McLaury

William "Curly Bill" Brocius

Billy Claiborne

John Peters Ringo


Other members, friends, and allies of the Cowboy Faction:


Alex Arnett

Johnny Barnes

Sheriff Johnny Behan

Tall Bell

Jim Crane

Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz

Pony Deal

Harry Ernshaw

William Harrison

Jake Gauze

Dick "Dixie" Gray

Charlie Green

John Greene

Billy Grounds

Harry Head


Milt Hicks

Joe Hill

Jim Hughs

Zwing Hunt

Luther King

Billy Lang

John McGill

Sherman McMasters

Jake McKenzie

"Rattlesnake Bill"

Bud Snow

Hank Swilling

William "Russian Bill" Tattenbaum

Charlie Thomas

Peter Spence(r)



Continued Next Page

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