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Outlaw Gangs -
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McCanles 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 ...
It was here at Rock Creek Station that Wild Bill Hickok
wiped out the McCanles Gang, Kathy Weiser, July, 2006.
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McCarty Gang (1892-1893) -
The McCarty Gang was run by
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,
Somewhere around 1892, Tom, his brother, Bill, and brother-in-law,
Matt Warner, held up a bank in Roslyn,
Washington. However, 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,
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
and Kansas in the 1890's. Robbing stores, post offices and bank in
the gang also rustled cattle and stole horses. Youngest brother, Jim made his
first robbery when he was only 14 years-old at
and later escaped from a jail in southwest
killing his guard in the process. Leader Bob Rogers, who had killed a lawman,
was killed by a posse in Horseshoe Mound on
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
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
this gang of rustlers began their life of crime out of their frustration with
the cattle barons, specifically
John Chisum. The warriors felt that
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
Dolan and Murphy in the
Lincoln County War,
the "Warriors" quickly joined up with
Dolan-Murphy to oppose
Several of the gangs' members were killed in the
Lincoln County War
and afterwards they began to turn against each other. Shortly afterwards, the
White Caps, aka: Forty Bandits, Society of Bandits (late 1880's-1893) -
Led by Vicente Silva, a businessman in
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
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.
(1878-1881) – Led by
Isaac (Ike) Stockton, the gang also included his brother,
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,
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,
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,
Stockton was killed by a rancher in Farmington named Alfred Graves. The rest
of the gang next headed to Silverton,
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
Redondo, alias Procopio or Red-Handed Dick; the blood-thirsty villain Juan Soto;
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
and Brack Cornett,
and trains in the late 1880's. In June of 1887, the gang robbed a train near
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
the ante an additional $500. Though heavily pursued, the outlaws fled. The next
year, the gang robbed a bank at Cisco,
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,
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
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,
the law caught up with them, the inevitable gunfight occurred, in which
was killed and another gang member taken prisoner. Brack Cornett was able to
escape and fled to
Texas Ranger, Alfred Allee,
doggedly pursued Cornett to Frio,
where he caught up with him. Gunplay erupted once again and when the smoke
cleared, Cornett was dead.
Seated: Harry A. Longabaugh, alias the Sundance Kid,
Ben "The Tall
Kilpatrick, Robert Leroy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy. Standing: Will Carver
Harvey Logan, alias Kid Curry; Photo taken in Fort Worth,
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photographic prints and downloads
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;
Laura Bullion, Elza 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 October, 2012.
Outlaws were often hanged by vigilantes.
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