Outlaw Gangs

Mes Gang – This bunch of primarily Hispanic outlaws and gunman, were a rival of the John Kinney Gang, both operating out of New Mexico.

Musgrove Gang (1867-1868) – A gang of horse thieves and cattle rustlers who operated throughout Southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado in the late 1860’s. in the late 1860’s.

Oklahombres – See Doolin-Dalton Gang

Henry Plummer Gang – See the Innocents

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.

Reno Gang (1866-1868) – Four of the five Reno Brothers terrorized the state of Indiana for two years before they tracked down and hanged by the Southern Indiana Vigilance Committee in 1868. See Full Article HERE.

Reynolds Gang (1863-1864) – A group of confederate sympathizers that rampaged the South Park, Colorado area with the intention of raising money for the Confederate government. See Article HERE.

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 (1895-1896) – A gang of ruthless outlaws who preyed on victims in Oklahoma, five of them were hanged at Fort Smith, Arkansas. See Article HERE.

John Selman

John Selman

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. See Article HERE.

Soapy Smith Gang (1879-1898) – Led by Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, the gang operated in Denver and Creede, Colorado before moving on to Skagway, Alaska, running a number of con games against unsuspecting citizens.

Stockton Gang (1878-1881) – Led by Ike Stockton, this gang of cattle rustlers terrorized the area of northern New Mexico, while posing as “gentleman cowboys” in Durango, Colorado. See Article HERE.

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.

Wild Bunch (1896-1901) – Led by Butch Cassidy, the Wild Bunch terrorized the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada for five years. See Article HERE.

 

”I wasn’t the leader of any gang. I was for Billy all the time.”

— Billy the Kid to a Las Vegas reporter after his capture at Stinking Springs.

 

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

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