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 vicinity of Rock Creek Station, Nebraska, 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, 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.
Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated February 2020.