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Outlaw Gangs - Page 5

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David McCanlesMcCanles Gang -  Led by David McCanles (or by some accounts, McCandless), this group of men were allegedly wanted for robbing banks and trains, cattle rustling, murder, and horse theft in the early 1860's. Though McCanles was known as a local bully in vicinity of Rock Creek Station, Nebraska, the only thing that supports the actuality of the McCanles Gang, was a article that appeared in Harper's Monthly Magazine, entitled Wild Bill, in 1867 (see article Here.) This story alleges that Bill Hickok single-handedly wiped out ten members of this desperado gang on July 12, 1861.


However, other reports, including one from the only living witness, David McCanles' 12 year-old son, Monroe, widely disputes this story. The Harper's article was told to a writer by Wild Bill Hickok, himself, who was known to be quite the exaggerator. Other reports state that only three people were killed in the incident at Rock Creek Station and that it was not "outlaw gang" related. Even today, the accuracy of what has become known as the McCanles Massacre at Rock Creek Station, Nebraska continues to be debated.  More ...



Rock Creek Station, Nebraska

It was here at Rock Creek Station that Wild Bill Hickok

wiped out the McCanles Gang, Kathy Weiser, July, 2006.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!


McCarty Gang (1892-1893) - The McCarty Gang was run by Tom McCarty, who was one of the first to introduce Butch Cassidy to the life of banditry. Tom was married to Teenie Christanson, sister to Willard Christianson, aka, Matt Warner. Somewhere around 1892, Tom, his brother, Bill, and brother-in-law, Matt Warner, held up a bank in Roslyn, Washington. When an angry crowd approached him, he opened fire, wounding two men. The next year, the McCarty brothers, along with their nephew, Fred McCarty robbed a bank in Delta, Colorado, in which, Tom shot a killed the cashier, A.T. Blachey. When citizens heard the gunfire, they rushed the bank and shot and killed Tom's brother, Bill, and his nephew. Tom McCarty was able to escape and fled to Montana where he settled down and worked as a sheepherder. However, around 1900, he was killed in a gunfight in Bitteroot County.


Red Jack Gang - Led by "Red Jack” Almer, also known as Jack Averill, this gang preyed on Arizona stagecoaches during the early 1880s, particularly along the San Pedro River.  Having taking thousands in gold coins, Sheriff Bob Paul organized a strong posse to put an end to Almer’s Gang of robberies. Tracking the gang down one by one, the posse found Almer hiding near Wilcox, Arizona on October 4, 1883 and in the ensuing gunfight, "Red Jack” was shot down by Sheriff Bob and his posse when he tried to battle his way out.


Red Sash Gang, aka: Major Wolcott's "Regulators",  (1887-1892) - One of the most feared band of outlaws in the Powder River area of Wyoming, these men were called the Red Sash Gang because of an article of clothing they wore for identification. The gang most often preyed on the the many homesteaders of the area, frequently leaving dead bodies in their wake. One of their most heinous crimes were the murders of Nathan Champion and Nick Rae on April 8, 1892. Though the victims barricaded themselves in a ranch house on the KC Ranch, Major Frank Wolcott, the leader of the gang, led his men on a vicious attack of the pair, leaving both of them dead. This act was the final instigator of the all-out Johnson County War between the cattlemen and the homesteaders in Wyoming, where the Red Sash Gang took part in some of the bloodiest fighting of the range war. The violence of the "war" was so bad that even Frank Canton, who was also a leader of the "Regulators" and a hardened gunfighter couldn't take it. Ultimately, the U.S. Army had to be brought in to arbitrate the Johnson County War and the Red Sash Gang faded into history.




Rogers Brothers Gang (1890s) - First led by Bob Rogers, the gang also included his brothers Sam and Jim Rogers, Ralph Hedrick, and others who terrorized Oklahoma and Kansas in the 1890's. Robbing stores, post offices and bank in Mound City, Kansas, the gang also rustled cattle and stole horses. Youngest brother, Jim made his first robbery when he was only 14 years-old at Hayden, Oklahoma and later escaped from a jail in southwest Kansas, killing his guard in the process. Leader Bob Rogers, who had killed a lawman, was killed by a posse in Horseshoe Mound on March 13, 1895. U.S. Deputy Marshal, Heck Bruner and posse caught up with Sam Rogers and Ralph Hedrick, who resisted arrest and gunfire erupted. When the smoke cleared, Hedrick lay dead and Sam Rogers had been shot in the leg. He then lived with his father as a helpless cripple. The last and youngest of the gang to be captured was Jim Rogers. The 22 year-old was apprehended by members of the Anti-Horse Thief Association in May, 1901 and sent to federal prison.   

Rufus Buck Gang (1895) - Led by Rufus Buck, this Creek Indian gang also included Sam Sampson, Maoma July, and brothers, Lewis and Lucky Davis. All of them had been apprehended on minor offenses and served time in the Fort Smith jail before going on their criminal spree in the summer of 1895. With the desire to become known as the most famous outlaws in the Wild West, Buck allegedly boasted that "his outfit would make a record that would sweep all the other gangs of the territory into insignificance."  Beginning with stockpiling a small cache of weapons in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, their spree began on July 30, 1895 when they robbed a town grocery store. When U.S. Deputy Marshal Garrett, one of the few black marshals in Indian Territory, responded to the call, the bandits shot him down. On their way from that murder, they abducted and raped a woman named Mrs. Wilson.

For the next two weeks they began to holdup a number of stores and ranches in Indian Territory, preying on white and Indian settlers indiscriminately. In one incident an elderly salesman named Callahan, who the gang had just robbed, was offered a chance to escape if he could outrun the gang. When the old man was successful, the brutal teens killed his assistant in frustration. They killed a man named Gus Chambers when he resisted the gang’s theft of horses. They then robbed a stockman, taking his clothing and boots and fired at him as he fled naked. Two days later the gang raped Rosetta Hansen while they held her husband at bay with Winchesters.

They were finally caught up with outside Muskogee, Oklahoma by a combined force of U.S. Deputy Marshals and the Creek Lighthorse police, led by Marshal S. Morton Rutherford on August 10th. The ensuing gunfight between the lawmen and the outlaws lasted almost a full day, before the teens finally surrendered. Though the Creek wanted to hold the gang for trial, the U.S. marshals prevailed and the outlaws were taken to Fort Smith, Arkansas to face "Hanging” Judge Isaac Parker.


When they were brought to court later in the year they were convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to die by Parker. However, the initial verdict was appealed and the execution delayed. However, in the end, their appeal failed and Parker was given the opportunity to re-sentence them to death. The execution of the five members of the Rufus Buck Gang on July 1, 1896 was the second to last execution to occur at Fort Smith. The Buck Gang were the only men to die on the gallows in Fort Smith for rape.


Selman's Scouts (1878) -  Led by outlaw/lawman John Selman, who had recently escaped Fort Griffin, Texas, Selman pulled together a number of rough characters to form the "Scouts.” Unlike the other gangs that operated in the area at the time, such as the Jesse Evans Gang, John Kinney Gang and the Seven Rivers Warriors, Selman’s Scouts had no pretext of fighting for a cause, such as the Lincoln County War. They only wanted to take advantage of the current already lawless state of the county. For two months, during September and October, the gang members terrorized the county by rustling cattle and horses, killing innocent men and boys, pillaging businesses and homes, and raping women. Though posses of Lincoln County citizens pursued the gang, the violence continued until Governor Lew Wallace issued a proclamation threatening martial law if the lawlessness did not stop. Selman soon fled back to Texas to find new trouble for himself and the reign of terror ended.


Seven Rivers Warriors - (1870's) - Made up mostly of small-time ranchers from the Seven Rivers area of southeastern Lincoln County, New Mexico, this gang of rustlers began their life of crime out of their frustration with the cattle barons, specifically John Chisum. The warriors felt that Chisum's more than 100,000 head of cattle, ate up most of the grazing land in the area. In retaliation, several small-ranchers grouped together, forming the Seven Rivers Warriors and began to steal Chisum's livestock. When Chisum supported the Tunstall/McSween faction against that of Dolan and Murphy in the Lincoln County War, the "Warriors" quickly joined up with Dolan-Murphy to oppose Chisum's friends. Several of the gangs' members were killed in the Lincoln County War and afterwards they began to turn against each other. Shortly afterwards, the gang dissolved.


Silva's White Caps, aka: Forty Bandits, Society of Bandits (late 1880's-1893) - Led by Vicente Silva, a businessman in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the White Caps were a mafia-like organization, who sought through fence-cutting, arson, and physical assault, to drive settlers from lands that had once been common pasture. The gang held the area in a virtual stranglehold until October, 1892, when they decided to hang fellow gang member Pat Maes for an infraction. Several months later, in February, 1893, Silva feared that his brother-in-law was going to inform on the gang for the lynching of Maes, he ordered him killed as well. Soon, however, Silva's wife became suspicious and he ordered three crooked lawmen by the names of Jose Chavez y Chavez, Eugenio Alarid and Julian Trujillo to kill her as well. Though they carried out the order, the three decided to kill Silva as well and buried him in the same grave, thus ending the reign of Silva's White Caps. Chavez, Alarid and Trujillo were eventually arrested for the murder of Maes and sentenced to life in prison.


Smith-Dixon Gang - A Gang of horse thieves and whiskey peddlers operating in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), its members included Dave Smith, a former member of the Belle Starr Gang; his brother-in-law, Leander "Lee" Dixon; and a man teenager of about 17 years-old named William "Billy" Towerly.


On November 27, 1887, U.S. Deputy Marshals, Frank Dalton and James R. Cole were attempting to serve warrants on Dave Smith for horse stealing and introducing whiskey in Indian Territory. They tracked them to a wood chopper's camp in the Arkansas River bottoms in present-day Sequoyay County, Oklahoma. With the three outlaws was also Dixon's wife. As they approached their tent, they warned they were after Smith only and the others should not interfere. However, Dave Smith fired a shot, hitting Frank Dalton in the chest. As the marshal lay helpless on the ground, Deputy Cole returned fire, killing Dave Smith. Lee Dixon and William Towerly then began firing at Cole, who took cover behind a tree. William Towerly then ran towards the fallen Frank Dalton pointing his gun straight at the marshal's face. Though Dalton pleaded with Towerly not to shoot him again, as he was already dying, Towerly blasted him once in the face and a second shot time to the head. In the meantime, Cole had also been hit several times, but, continued to fire, wounding Lee Dixon and killing his wife. William Towerly fled.


Deputy Marshal Cole made his way back to Fort Smith, Arkansas to report the battle. A posse was sent to retrieve the bodies of Smith, Dalton, and Mrs. Dixon. Lee Dixon, who had been hit by a bullet near the left collar bone, was taken to the prison hospital in Fort Smith, where he later died from his wounds. A $1,000 reward was issued for Towerly for Frank Dalton's murder and the youth's freedom would be short lived. Marshals Z.W. "Bill" Moody and Ed Stokley caught up him near Atoka, Oklahoma, where he was hiding out at his parents' home. On December 3, 1887, they approached Towerly demanding his surrender. When "Billy" went for his gun, both officers shot him, hitting him in the leg and the shoulder. However as Stokley approached the outlaw to disar him, Towerly switched the gun to his unwounded arm and shot Stokley in the Chest. Moody then killed Towerly.

Stockton Gang (1878-1881) – Led by Isaac (Ike) Stockton, the gang also included his brother, Port; his next-in-command, Harg Eskridge; Dyson Eskridge, and Bert Wilkerson. Robbing and rustling cattle in northern New Mexico, while escaping back over the line into the Durango, Colorado area, their efforts soon spawned an all out feud, sometimes referred to as the San Juan County War, with the Simmons family in Farmington, New Mexico. The Simmons family accused the Stocktons of stealing their cattle and selling the beef to army posts. The "war” erupted into full scale shoot-outs and lynchings in 1880.  In fact, the Stockton’s "business” was so profitable; they flaunted themselves, even opening a butcher shop in Durango. In the meantime almost two dozen ranchers in the Farmington area had begun to side with the Simmons, guarding their property night and day against the cattle rustlers.    

Meanwhile, the gang was posing as prosperous cattlemen in the Durango area, where the people of that city stood behind them, partly because Port Stockton was serving as the town marshal, and partly because they believed the men were what they said they were.   

On April 16, 1880, a man was lynched in Durango and the very next day, while the body was still dangling from a tree by the railroad tracks, the town was besieged by a band of 25-50 armed men calling themselves the Farmington Vigilante Committee. In no time, rifle shots were ringing throughout the dirt streets while its citizens hid from the violence. Afterwards, Durango no longer believed in their "prosperous cattlemen” and soon drove the gang out of town.

On January 10, 1881, Port Stockton was killed by a rancher in Farmington named Alfred Graves. The rest of the gang next headed to Silverton, Colorado, where on August 24, 1881, one of the gang members, Burt Wilkinson, killed Marshal Clate Ogsbury. When a $2,500 reward was offered for his arrest, scoundrel leader,Ike Stockton, turned in his own gang member in order to secure the reward money. Nineteen year-old Wilkinson was arrested and lynched on September 4th.

But, local law certainly didn’t see Stockton as any kind of hero. They soon dug up a New Mexico warrant for Ike for the murder of a man named Aaron Barker in 1881. When Silverton Deputy Sheriff Jim Sullivan went to arrest, Ike, the scoundrel resisted and the deputy shot him in the leg. The outlaw died after having his leg amputated on September 27, 1881. Later, it was said that Deputy Sullivan claimed to hate a traitor more than a murderer.  

Vasquez Gang (1860s-1875) - Led by Tiburcio Vasquez, the gang committed armed robbery and rustled horses and cattle up and down central and southern California for years. Excusing their actions by saying they were simply "punishing” the whites for discrimination against those of Mexican and Spanish decent, the gang never took advantage of Hispanics, leading to their being sometimes being viewed as "folk heroes." Though members of the gang changed throughout the years, some included Abdon Leiva, who would wind up giving State's evidence against Vasquez; Tomas Redondo, alias Procopio or Red-Handed Dick; the blood-thirsty villain Juan Soto; and Vasquez's chief lieutenant Clodovio Chavez. Though wanted men, pursuit of the outlaws increased dramatically after they robbed a store Tres Pinos, California, taking some $200 in gold, and leaving behind three innocent bystanders in 1873. A reward of $1,000 was placed on Tiburcio Vasquez, that over time, increased to $15,000, sending lawmen from Fresno, Tulare, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Monterey counties scrambling after the elusive leader. Vasquez was finally caught in May, 1874, tried and hanged in March of the following year. Vasquez's loyal lieutenant, Clodovio Chavez, fled to Arizona, where he was killed by lawmen in November, 1875 near Yuma, Arizona. Juan Soto was killed in a gunfight with Alameda County Sheriff, Harry Morse.


Bill Whitley or Brack Cornett Gang (1887-1888) - Comprised of about 12 outlaws, the gang was led by Texas desperadoes Bill Whitley and Brack Cornett, robbing Texas banks and trains in the late 1880's. In June of 1887, the gang robbed a train near Flatonio, Texas, making off with about $600 in money and $1000 worth of jewelry from passengers. The Wells Fargo Company quickly offered a $1,000 reward for the capture of the outlaws and their conviction and the State of Texas upped the ante an additional $500. Though heavily pursued, the outlaws fled. The next year, the gang robbed a bank at Cisco, Texas, making off with some $25,000. Several days later they robbed the International-Great Northern Railroad, escaping with $20,000. Later that year, they planned to rob a a Southern Pacific train out of Harwood, Texas, on September 22nd. However, their plans were foisted when U.S. Marshal John Rankin somehow found out about the scheme. On the day of the planned robbery, Rankin, along with Deputy U.S. Marshal, Duval West, and several Texas Rangers hid on board the train. Just three miles outside of Harwood, the gang predictably stopped the train but were effectively driven off by the lawmen. Though pursued, the would-be robbers were able to escape. Pursued more than ever by numerous posses, the gang were finally run to ground by U.S. Deputy Marshals just a few days later on September 25, 1888 in Floresville, Texas. When the law caught up with them, the inevitable gunfight occurred, in which Bill Whitley was killed and another gang member taken prisoner. Brack Cornett was able to escape and fled to Arizona. However, one Texas Ranger, Alfred Allee, doggedly pursued Cornett to Frio, Arizona, where he caught up with him. Gunplay erupted once again and when the smoke cleared, Cornett was dead.


Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

Seated: Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance  Kid, Ben "The Tall Texan"

Kilpatrick, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy. Standing: Will Carver and

Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry; Photo taken in Fort Worth, Texas, 1901.

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!



The Wild Bunch (1896-1901) - Butch Cassidy's bandit gang operated in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada for nearly five years successfully robbing banks, trains, and stages throughout the area. The group which was usually made up of about ten people varied throughout the years in its members, as outlaws and girlfriends came and went. But the Wild Bunch, sometimes referred to as Butch Cassidy's Gang or the Hole in the Wall Gang, was always led by Cassidy, whose real name was Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Longabaugh, better known as the "Sundance Kid."


The gang utilized several hideouts including the Hole in the Wall in the southern Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, Brown's Hole in a desolate valley near the Wyoming, Colorado and Utah; and the Robber's Roost located in the desert of southeastern Utah.


The gang also included Etta Place, Longbaugh's girlfriend; Bill Carver; Ben "The Tall Texan" Kilpatrick; Kid Curry, Willard "the Mormon Kid" Christianson; George Curry; Laura Bullion, Elzy Lay, Tom "Peep" O'Day, Jesse Linsley, Annie Rogers, Lillie Davis, and others who came and went over the years.


As communication improved throughout the country, the robberies became more difficult and that finally split up after their last train robbery in the summer of 1901. Avidly pursued by the Pinkertons, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and Etta Place fled to Argentina in 1902. Some say the outlaw pair were killed in Bolivia, but others say they finally made their way back to the United States where they lived anonymously until their deaths.



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated June, 2017.



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