McCanles Gang of Nebraska

David McCanles

David McCanles

The McCanles Gang, led by David McCanles (or, by some accounts, McCandless), was a group of men who were allegedly wanted for robbing banks and trains, cattle rustling, murder, and horse theft in the early 1860s.

Though McCanles was known as a local bully in the vicinity of Rock Creek StationNebraska, the only thing that supports the actuality of the McCanles Gang was an 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 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.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated December 2022.

Also See:

James Butler Hickok

Outlaw Gangs List

Rock Creek Station

Wild Bill Article