Outlaw gangs go as far back in history as the beginning of man, with the word “thug” (Thugz) dating to 1200 A.D. when gangs in India were pillaging many of the country’s towns. These gangs often had their own hand signs, rituals, symbols and slang, as they clustered together for means of force and protection.
During the 1800s, Americans were fascinated by gangs and their members such as the James Gang, Billy the Kid’s Gang, the Doolin-Dalton Gang, the Wild Bunch and dozens of others that ruled the Wild West.
Though the history of these Old West gangs is often romanticized, it should not be forgotten that they were in fact, nothing more than thugs.
Outlaw Gang List:
Archer Gang (1880s) – Much like the Reno Brothers had operated two decades earlier, the Archer brothers — Thomas, Mort, John, and Sam, raided Orange and Marion Counties in Indiana for several decades.
Black Hills Bandits (1876-1877) – Comprised of Sam Bass, Joel Collins, and four other men, they robbed stagecoaches in the Deadwood, South Dakota area and pulled off the Big Springs train robbery in Nebraska.
Clanton Gang, aka: The Cowboys (1870’s) – The Clanton family and their ranch hands were a loosely organized gang of outlaws who operated along the Mexican border of Arizona, stealing cattle, robbing stagecoaches, ambushing teamsters, and committing murder.
Brack Cornett Gang – See Bill Whitley Gang
Doolin-Dalton Gang, aka: Oklahombres, the Wild Bunch (1892-1895) – Led by Bill Doolin, the gang specialized in robbing banks, stagecoaches and trains in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Espinosa Gang – Bitter at the killing of six family members during the Mexican-American War, the Espinoza took their revenge on Colorado residents and travelers, murdering them viciously.
The Five Joaquins (1850-1853) – The Five Joaquins were said to be responsible for the majority of cattle rustling, robberies, and murders that were committed in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas between 1850 and 1853.
Fleagle Gang (1920s) – The Fleagle Gang robbed banks and committed murder in Kansas, Colorado, and California during the 1920s. They were found and executed or killed after robbing the First National Bank in Lamar, Colorado.
Flores-Daniel Gang (1856-1857) – Led by Juan Flores and Pancho Daniel, the gang raided southern California, stealing horses, cattle, and robbing travelers along the roadways, sometimes leaving their victims dead.
High Fives Gang (1890’s) – Also referred to as the Christian Gang, led by “Black Jack” Will Christian and his brother, Bob, from Oklahoma, the gang operated in New Mexico and Arizona after the Christian brothers escaped from an Oklahoma jail in 1895.
Hole-in-the-Wall-Gang – Active in the 1880s-1890s in the Hole-in-the-Wall Pass of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang was not one organized gang of outlaws, but rather, was made up of several separate groups and individuals who made their hideouts within the pass in Johnson County, Wyoming.
Innocents Gang – The Innocents were an alleged gang of outlaw road agents in Montana Territory who operated during the gold rush of the 1860s, preying on shipments and travelers carrying gold between Bannack and Virginia City.
James Gang (1879-1882) – Three years after the demise of the James-Younger Gang, when the Youngers were arrested in Northfield, Minnesota, Jesse James put together another group to continue on with his criminal career. The James Gang lasted from 1879 to 1882, when Jesse was killed by Bob Ford on April 3, 1882.
James-Younger Gang (1866-1882) – After the Civil War, the James and Younger brothers hooked up, robbing banks, trains and stagecoaches for ten years, becoming the most famous outlaw gang in America’s history.
Jennings Gang (1897) – This short-lived gang operated only a few months making several failed train robbery attempts in Oklahoma in 1897 before all were arrested or killed.