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Old West Outlaws - S

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Isham Seely (18??-1876) - Seely was an iterant drifter working his way through the Chickasaw Nation near Stonewall, Mississippi in 1873. Along with another drifter by the name of Gibson Ishtanubbee, the pair arrived at the door of a farmer who was called "Squirrel" Funny. The farmer, who lived with his black housekeeper and a cook in a small cabin, answered a knock on the door to find the two men who asked if they might be allowed to spend the night before continuing their travels the next day. As was tradition at the time, the farmer agreed and showed them where they might sleep. However, just before dawn the next morning, Istanubbee drove an ax into Funny's skull while he slept while Selly beat the housekeeper to death with a pistol Afterwards, the two looted the house, before fleeing. They did not get far and were soon arrested. Taken to stand trial in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Judge Isaac Parker sentenced them both to death. Both were hanged on April 21, 1876.


Charlie Smith (18??-1874) - A horse thief operating in Kansas, Smith was captured with several other horse thieves near Caldwell, Kansas. Hauled to jail to await trial, a lynch mob stormed the Caldwell jail on July 29, 1874 and lynched Smith, along with two other horse thieves by the names of William "Billy" L. Brooks and L.B. Hasbrouck.



 Fort Smith, Arkansas gallows

Seely was hanged from the Fort Smith Gallows, photo October, 2007, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints

 and downloads HERE!


Rattlesnake Dick - See Richard Barter


Milton Anthony Sharp (18??-18??) - Born in Lees Summit, Missouri, Sharp moved to California in 1869. No more than a teenager, he earned an honest living working in the mines around Bodie. However, when he reached his early thirties, Sharp’s mindset changed, believing it would be much easier to make his living robbing stages. In the late 1870’s, he began to relieve the many coaches traveling the roads from the Sierra foothills to Stockton and Sacramento. After having robbed some 20 stages, Sharp was finally captured and sent to the penitentiary in Carson City, Nevada in 1880.  After being released in 1994, he was thought to have lived the rest of his life as a law-abiding man. More ...


George SheppherdGeorge Washington Shepherd (1842-1917) - Born in Missouri, Shepherd married Martha Sanders in March 1861. He fought with William Quantrill's gang of guerillas during the Civil War and afterwards joined up with the James-Younger Gang. He was involved with robbery of the Southern Bank of Kentucky on March 21, 1868. The gang got away with some $14,000, but a posse was hot on their trail. Shepherd was caught and sent to prison for three years. During his incarceration, his wife remarried without first obtaining a divorce. Shepherd was said to have killed James Anderson, the brother of William "Bloody Bill" Anderson in Texas. He died on February 23, 1917.


Oliver ShepherdOliver "Oll" Shepherd (1842-1868) - Born on November 25, 1842, Shepherd married Mary Jane Vance on February 2, 1860 and the couple would have two children. He fought with the Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War. Afterwards, he joined up with the James-Younger Gang and was with the gang when they committed the first daylight bank robbery in the nation in Liberty, Missouri on February 13, 1866. After stealing some $57,000 and trying to make their getaway, shooting erupted and an innocent college student was caught in the fray and killed.


Shepherd was again present when the gang robbed the Southern Bank of Kentucky of $14,000 on March 21, 1868. With a posse hot on their trail, Oliver's cousin, George Shepherd was arrested, but Oliver made it back to Missouri. However, he was tracked down by a posse in Jackson County and when he resisted arrest and attempted to shoot his way to safety, he was killed on April 4, 1868. He had 20 bullets in his body. 




Vicente Silva (1845-1893) - Vicente Silva was the clandestine leader of a vicious gang of Mexicans called Silva's White Caps, or Forty Bandits, or the Society of Bandits. Born in Bernalillo County, Silva arrived in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1875. Silva ran a prosperous business by day and at night he led the feared outlaw gang. The White Caps, a Klan-like organization, sought through fence-cutting, arson, and physical assault, to drive settlers from lands that had once been common pasture.


Committing a variety of crimes, the Mafia-like gang was one of the meanest and cruelest ever assembled in New Mexico. Often meeting in Silva's Imperial Saloon on Moreno Street, 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.


At the request of Silva, three crooked lawmen by the names of  Jose Chavez y Chavez, Eugenio Alarid and Julian Trujillo lynched Patricio Maes on October 22, 1892.  Several months later Silva began to fear that his brother-in-law, Gabriel Sandoval, was about to inform on the group for the lynching of Maes.

Requesting help once again from Chavez, Alarid, and Truillo, Sandoval was shot and killed in February, 1893 and his body mysteriously disappeared.


Afterwards, Silva's wife began to ask numerous questions about her brother’s questionable disappearance. Silva soon decided that she too had to be killed. Afterwards, he ordered his trusty trio of crooked lawmen to dig a grave for his wife’s body. However, as the men dug the grave, their discussion turned lethal, as they were dissatisfied with the paltry $10 payment and deciding that Silva was out of control.  When Silva appeared with his wife's body, the trio robbed and murdered him, burying his body along with his wife’s.


After Silva's death, the gang disintegrated. Chavez, Alarid, and Truillo were eventually arrested for the murder of Maes and sentenced to life in prison.


Sontag Brothers - Born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota, these brothers would grow up to become train robbers in California. John was born on May 27, 1861 and his brother George came along on April 10, 1864. George began a life of crime when he was just 15 years old by stealing cigars from his employer and was sent to the state reform school in St. Paul. After he was released he headed to Nebraska, where he went to work as a grocery store clerk. However, when he was caught embezzling money from his employer he was arrested again and sent to the Nebraska State Prison.  He was released in 1887.


In the meantime, John had moved to Los Angeles, California in 1878 and gone to work for the railroad, where he was badly injured in an industrial accident. After he recovered he went to work with a farmer by the name of Chris Evans. Harboring a deep resentment against the railroad, John and Chris Evans began to rob trains.


When George Sontag joined his brother in California in 1889, he joined them in their outlaw endeavors. On August 1, 1892, the trio robbed a train in Fresno, making off with three stacks of money. Actively pursued by the Pinkertons, George was arrested, but John and Chris managed to escape. Convicted, George was given a life sentence at Folsom Prison.


The two other fugitives remained at large for almost a year until they were finally caught up with on June 11, 1893. In the ultimate shoot-out, John was so badly injured, the posse waited until morning when more help could arrive to move him. Taken to Fresno, John lived for another month before he died of tetanus. Chris Evans, who had also been wounded during the capture, survived to be convicted and sent to prison at Folsom.

After serving 15 years behind bars, George Sontag was released on March 21, 1908 and wrote the book A Pardoned Lifer, which was later made into a movie in 1914. It is unknown how or when George died. Chris Evans remained in prison until 1911 and upon his release was banished from California. He spent the rest of his life in Oregon.

William Larkin Stiles, aka: William Larkin, Billy Stiles (18?? -1908) - Gunfighter William Stiles allegedly killed his father when he was just twelve years old. He gained notoriety around the turn of the century after assisting famous Texas Ranger Jeff Milton. He was then hired by Willcox, Arizona marshal Burton Alvord. However, the two weren't dedicated to law enforcement, rather, they formed gang of train robbers that included George and Louis Owns, Three Fingered Jack" Dunlap, Bravo Juan Yoas, and Bob Brown. After serving a stint in jail, Stiles went to visit Alvord and other gang members who were incarcerated at the Cochise County courthouse. On April 7, 1900, he shot the lawman, George Bravin, taking off two of his toes, and released the prisoners. In January, 1908, Stiles was working in Nevada as a deputy sheriff and shot a man while arresting him. The victim's 12-year-old son then shot and killed Stiles.


Frank C. Stillwell (1857-1882) - Born in the border area between Kansas and Missouri, Stillwell arrived in Arizona in 1878 where he first worked as a miner and teamster in Mohave County. Later, he hooked up with the Clanton Gang and began a new career of cattle rustling. Thief or no, Johnny Behan appointed Stillwell as a Cochise County Deputy Sheriff in 1881. While acting in that capacity, he and a man named Pete Spence robbed the Tombstone-Bisbee stage of $3,000 on September 8, 1881. Though arrested, they were acquitted. Not satisfied with this result, Wyatt Earp soon rounded them up and brought them in for a second trial, but they were again acquitted and released. After the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the Earps suspected Stillwell, along with Ike Clanton, as having been the killers of Morgan Earp on March 18, 1882. Two days after Morgan was murdered, Wyatt and Warren Earp, along with Doc Holliday, ambushed Stilwell at the Tucson Train Station. His bullet ridden body was found the next morning.

Bannack, Montana GallowsI.N. "Buck” Stinson (18??-1864) - An alleged member of a road agent gang called the Innocents, operating out of Bannack, Montana, Stinson was hanged by Montana Vigilantes.

Born at Greencastle, Indiana, he moved with his family to Andrew County, Missouri at the age of 14. From a respectable family, he was described as intelligent, studious, and as having a bright future. However, when he grew up, he headed west and upon reaching Montana, got involved with bad influences. After he arrived in Bannack, Stinson rented a corner space in Cyrus Skinner’s saloon, set up a barber chair, and made his living cutting hair when he wasn’t drinking, gambling, or getting into arguments with other men in the saloon.

In the spring of 1863, Stinson murdered a friendly Bannock Indian chief for no apparent cause and would later brag about it. Despite his reputation, after Henry Plummer was made sheriff on May 24, 1863, he appointed Stinson as one of his deputies. Though Plummer hired a couple of other "roughs” with less than sterling reputations, he also hired several respectable men, one of which was John Dillingham, who was made the chief deputy.   

But, deputies like Buck Stinson, Charley Forbes, and Ned Ray, who were living on the "fringe” and thought to have been outlaws themselves, didn’t like Dillingham’s honesty. When Dillingham tried to warn a man named Dodge that fellow deputies Stinson and Forbes, along with a man named Haze Lyons, intended to rob him on a planned trip to Fort Benton. When the would-be robbers heard of the warning, they shot Dillingham down in Virginia City, Montana on June 26, 1863. Though the killers were arrested and tried in a miners' court, with several witnesses to the murder, they were acquitted. This incident was just one of many that prompted the organization of the Montana Vigilantes in late 1863.

After capturing and hanging alleged road agent Erastus "Red" Yager on January 4, 1864, the Montana Vigilantes claimed that Yager had named Henry Plummer as the leader of the gang called the Innocents. The vigilantes acted swiftly and on January 10, 1864 they rode into Bannack from Virginia City and apprehended Henry Plummer and his two deputies, Buck Stinson and Ned Ray. Marching the three men to the gallows in a military style, the three were lifted up and dropped to their deaths. The three bodies were left hanging until the next morning. Plummer’s was the only body placed in a wooden coffin and none were buried in the cemetery, but instead all three were buried in shallow graves in Hangman’s Gulch about a hundred yards up from the gallows.

Isaac "Ike” Stockton (1852-1881) - Born and raised in Texas, Stockton was an outlaw and leader of the Stockton Gang of robbers in northern New Mexico. Making his way to Lincoln, New Mexico in 1874, Stockton ran a saloon for a brief time before moving north to Colfax County, New Mexico later that year. No doubt, he had some involvement in the infamous Colfax County War that took place in 1875-76. He and his brother, Port, moved to Trinidad, Colorado briefly in 1876, but after Port killed a man in December, they moved on to western Colorado. There, the two posed as cattleman, settling in the Animas Valley around 1878. Unbeknownst to area residents, Ike was actually running a gang of robbers called the Stockton Gang. They also became involved in a bitter feud with they were now with the Simmons family in nearby Farmington, New Mexico. Sometimes referred to as the San Juan County War, the Simmons’ 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.  

On August 24, 1881, one of the gang members, Burt Wilkinson, killed Marshal Clate Ogsbury of Silverton, Colorado and a $2,500 reward was offered for his arrest. Ever the scoundrel,  Ike 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.  

William Porter "Port” Stockton (1864-1881) - Born and raised in Texas, Port became an outlaw and lawman. He was the younger brother of more well-known Ike Stockson, who led the Stockton Gang, a group of thieving robbers in northern New Mexico. Allegedly he killed his first man when he was just 12 years-old. He drifted Dodge City, Kansas briefly before following his older brother to New Mexico in 1874, where Ike ran a saloon in Lincoln. Port shot and killed Juan Gonzales in October, 1876 in Cimarron, New Mexico, but was released with of please of self defense. Then, he and Ike moved to Trinidad, Colorado, where he killed another man in a saloon fight just two months later. Arrested, Ike helped him to escape from jail. Amazingly, in 1979-80, he was serving as Marshal in Animas City, Colorado. In June, 1879, he killed a man in Otero, New Mexico, but escaped once again. After getting into a dispute with a rancher in Farmington, New Mexico named Alfred Graves, Port was shot by Graves on on January 10, 1881.



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