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Outlaw Gangs - Page 4

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Rustling cattleJesse Evans Gang, aka: The Boys (1872-1879) - Lead by Jesse Evans, this gang was actively involved in cattle rustling and armed robbery in New Mexico in mid 1870's, and for a while Billy the Kid rode with the gang. When the feud between the Dolan faction and John H. Tunstall began, each trying to control business interests and the cattle industry in Lincoln County, the Dolan-Murphy faction hired the Evans Gang to act as "enforcers." It was after this occurred that Billy the Kid quit riding with the Evans Gang and would eventually support the opposing Tunstall faction, known as the Regulators. Some of the gang's members were eventually involved in the "posse" that was formed by Sheriff William Brady to confront John Tunstall, an event that left Tunstall dead and ignited the Lincoln County War.


After the violence of Lincoln County had finally ended, the gang stayed in the area until February, 1879, then fled to Texas after Jessie and gang member, Billy Campbell were involved with another murder. In Texas, they continued their rustling and robbing activities until they tracked down by Texas Rangers near Presidio on July 3, 1880.  

In the ultimate gunfight that occurred, Jesse Evans shot and killed Texas Ranger George Bingham, and gang member John Gross was killed by rangers. The members of the gang were finally forced to surrender. Evans was sentenced to prison in Huntsville but managed to escape from a work detail in May, 1882 and was never heard from again.  


Farrington Brothers Hilary and Levi Farrington were Confederate guerillas under the command of William Quantrill when he burned and sacked Lawrence, Kansas on August 21, 1863. When the Civil War was over, the two became outlaws and robbed the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in Union City, Tennessee in 1870. With the Pinkertons hot on their trails, Hillary Farrington shot William Pinkerton in the side when the detective cornered him on a Kentucky farm.


Though wounded, Pinkerton still managed to subdue Hillary and cuffed his wrists. However while the pair were en route to Columbus, Kentucky the next day, Hillary broke loose and grabbed Pinkerton's shotgun. Struggling over the weapon in a death fight, the gun discharged, grazing Pinkerton's> skull and Hilary wrenched it free. However, before the train robber could aim, Pinkerton delivered an angry upper-cut that sent his foe spinning backwards over the paddleboat, where he landed on the paddle wheel and was chopped to pieces. Levi was captured in Farmingdale, Illinois before being lynched by the people of Union City, Tennessee where the robbery took place.


Flores-Daniel Gang (1856-1857) - Led by Juan Flores and Pancho Daniel, the gang raided southern California, stealing horses, cattle, and robbing travelers along the roadways, sometimes leaving their victims dead. Though regarded by white settlers and thieves and outlaws, they were considered among Mexican-Americans as folk heroes who were defending their rights and fighting American oppression, much the same as had Tiburcio Vásquez and Joaquín Murrieta a couple of years before. Juan Flores, who had been arrested and sent to San Quentin for stealing horses, escaped in October, 1856 and soon hooked up with outlaw, Pancho Daniel, and recruiting a number of other area Hispanics, including  Anastasio García, Espinoza, Andrés Fontes, Chino Varelas, Faustino García, Juan Cartabo and "One-eyed" Piguinino, formed a gang and began to raid the areas of San Luis Obispo and San Juan Capistrano. Soon the gang grew to over 50 men who rustled cattle, committed armed robbery, and murder of white settlers.


In January, 1857 the gang made a raid on San Juan Capistrano, looting several shops and killing a shopkeeper and an assistant. Afterwards, they continued to loot the town as they celebrated in a drinking spree. Soon, Los Angeles County Sheriff James R. Barton rounded up a posse to go after the outlaws.  


On January 22, 1857, Barton, along with Deputies William H. Little, Charles K. Baker, Charles T. Daly and three other men set out to capture the notorious Flores-Daniel Gang, who had recently raided the town of San Juan Capistrano. The posse headed south, resting for the night, before stopping for breakfast at the main house of the Rancho San Joaquin southwest of the present-day Santa Ana. Owned by Don Jose Sepulveda, the ranch owner warned the men that they were extremely outnumbered and should get reinforcements before continuing their pursuit. However, Barton and his men ignored the warning and continued on.




After traveling about 12 miles south, they were ambushed by gunshots in a canyon. They tried to return the fire, only to discover that someone (thought to have been a ranch servant) had removed the ammunition from their weapons. Unarmed, the lawmen began to flee, but Sheriff Barton, Constable Charles Baker, Deputy Charles Daly, and Constable William Little were shot and killed, the first lawmen in Los Angeles County to lose their lives in the line of duty. The other three men were able to escape to tell of the ambush. Within two hours, another posse was formed of some 60 men, who once again went after the outlaws. Under the leadership of James Thompson, who would later become Los Angeles County's new sheriff, the posse found the mutilated bodies of the four officers. With renewed enthusiasm, the posse continued the search for the outlaws, arresting 52 of them. Another posse, led by General Andres Pico, immediately lynched two of the most notorious of the gang when they came upon them.


Housed in the county jail, eleven of the men were eventually hanged, including Juan Flores on February 14, 1857. Pancho Daniel, who had eluded arrest, was captured the following year and was hanged on November 30, 1858. Before it was all said and done, more than 100 gang members were either captured or killed in pursuit.


High Fives Gang (1890’s) - Also referred to as the Christian Gang, led by "Black Jack" Will Christian and his brother, Bob, from Oklahoma, the gang operated in New Mexico and Arizona after the Christian brothers escaped from a Guthrie, Oklahoma jail in 1895. Along with additional gang members, Jess Williams and Bob Hays, the gang robbed banks, trains, and stagecoaches. After almost making off with the loot from the International Bank in Nogales, Arizona on August 6, 1895 the High Fives were aggressively pursued by a posse led by Sheriff Bob Leatherwood. When they caught up with the gang near Skeleton Canyon, a gunfight ensued, leaving Deputy Frank Robson dead. The gang then escaped across the border into Mexico. When authorities learned the outlaws were back in the area in 1897, another posse was organized. They soon tracked them to what is now known as Black Jack Canyon. In yet another gunfight, Will Christian was killed. 


Joaquin Murrieta, California banditThe Five Joaquins (1850-1853) - The Five Joaquins were said to be responsible for the majority of cattle rustling, robberies, and murders that were committed in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas between 1850 and 1853. Led by Joaquin Murietta, the gang also included members Joaquin Botellier, Joaquin Carrillo, Joaquin Ocomorenia, and Joaquin Valenzuela, hence the name of the gang. Also included was Murietta's right hand man, Manuel Garcia, known as "Three-Fingered Jack." The gang allegedly formed and began to terrorize the towns and gold camps because the Mexicans were being discriminated against in the mines and forced off their land by invading hordes of American miners. The gang is credited with stealing more than $100,000 in gold, over 100 horses, killing 19 people (mostly Chinese mine workers), and killing three lawmen while outrunning posses, killing three lawmen. In the end, the California Rangers were sent to capture them and once they caught up with them, allegedly killed Murrieta and Garcia in 1853.  More...  


The Innocents - The Innocents were allegedly a gang of road agents led by Henry Plummer in the gold rush days of Montana. Plummer, who served as sheriff of Bannack from May 24, 1863 to January 10, 1864 was widely thought to have lead a ruthless gang of highwaymen who terrorized the road between Bannack and Virginia City, stealing from stage coaches, freight caravans, and especially from the ore wagons hauling the gold shipments along the road. During this violent time, nearly a hundred people were killed during these many robberies. Finally, a group of men calling themselves the Vigilante Committee formed in nearby Virginia City to take matters into their own hands. Over the next month, 21 men were hanged, including Henry Plummer on January 10, 1864. The last man hanged by the vigilantes may have done nothing more than express an opinion that several of those hanged previously had been innocent. Today, the accuracy of Henry Plummer's guilt has been challenged, with many believing that the crimes were in fact committed by the Vigilante Committee, themselves, and that Plummer and the "Innocents" were in fact killed to cover their own crimes.  More ...


James Gang (1879-1882) - Three years after the demise of the James-Younger Gang, when the Youngers were arrested in Northfield, Minnesota, Jesse James put together another group to continue on with his criminal career. The gang's members were comprised of Jesse and Frank James, Ed Clell, brothers, Robert and Charley Ford, Bill Ryan, Dick Liddel, James "Windy Jim" Cummings, and brothers, Wood and Clarence Hite. With members coming and going during various crimes, the gang robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains in Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, and West Virginia up until Bob Ford killed Jesse James on April 3, 1882.


Jennings Gang (1897) - Comprised of Al and Frank Jennings, former Doolin Gang member, Little Dick West, and brothers Morris and Pat O'Malley, the short-lived gang operated only a few months making several failed train robbery attempts in 1897. After blowing up a railroad car that held a safe, and finding no "booty" for their efforts, they robbed the train passengers. A few weeks later, they robbed a store, making off with just $15. The Jennings and O'Malley brothers were soon arrested and sent to jail. Little Dick West remained on the "lamb" until the next year, when he was killed on April 8, 1898, by Deputy U.S. Marshals in Logan County, Oklahoma Territory.


John Kinney Gang (1870’s-1883) - Also known as the Rio Grande Posse, the Kinney Gang were successful cattle rustlers and hired gunmen in New Mexico, primarily operating in Dona Ana County in the early 1870’s. In 1877 they hired out to fight in the El Paso Salt War and the following year, made their guns available to the Dolan-Murphy faction in the Lincoln County War. Upon their arrival in Lincoln County, John Kinney was deputized by Sheriff George Peppin. With his gang acting as his posse, they were given the freedom to run rampant in the county. Once the "war” was over, most of the gang members returned to Dona Ana County and their profitable cattle rustling activities. However, a few of them remained and joined up with another gang called Selman’s Scouts. The Kinney Gang continued to flourish until leader John Kinney was arrested in April, 1883.  Convicted of cattle rustling, Kinney spent the next three years in prison, and by the time he was released his men had scattered.


The Ketchum Gang (1896-1899) - Made up of a revolving list of members, the Ketchum Gang was led by Black Jack Thomas Ketchum, working with his brother Sam. Others who came and went were Will Carver, Elza Lay, and Ben Kilpatrick, who also rode with Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. Other members included Dan Johnson, Sam Marr, Tom Thomas and Ed Bullion, brother of Laura Bullion, who started out being Will Carver's girlfriend, and later, Ben Kilpatrick's. For three years, the gang robbed retail businesses, post offices and trains in New Mexico. However, everything began to fall apart when members, Sam Ketchum, Will Carver and Elzy Lay pulled a heist without Black Jack Ketchum on July 11, 1899 in Folsom, New Mexico. Though they made off with some $50,000, they were soon pursued by a posse to a hideout near Cimarron, New Mexico. In the ultimate shootout that occurred, Sam Ketchum was seriously wounded, and Sheriff Edward Farr was killed. Carver and Elzy were able to escape, but Ketchum was taken to the penitentiary in Santa Fe, where he later died of blood poisoning on July 24th. Lay was arrested on August 16th and was tried and convicted for the murder of Ed Farr and sentenced to life in prison. Carver escaped to ride with the Wild Bunch. Ben Kilpatrick would go with him.


In the meantime, Black Jack Ketchum decided to single-handled rob the the Colorado & Southern train on its return to Folsom on August 16, 1899. In the process, he was shot and wounded. Taken into custody, he was tried and sentenced to hang. On April 26, 1901, Black Jack Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Union County, New Mexico and the only person ever hanged for train robbery in the State of New Mexico. More...


Lee Gang (mid 1880's) - Operating in Cooke County, Texas, and just north in Indian Territory, were plagued by a gang of horse and livestock thieves led by James Lee and his brothers, Tom and Pink. More ...



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