The Dalton Brothers – Lawmen & Outlaws

Deputy Marshal  Heck Thomas remembered Bob Dalton as the most accurate shot he had ever seen. He was buried at the Coffeyville, Kansas Cemetery under a marker for himself, his brother Grat, and Bill Power.

Grat Dalton

Grat Dalton

Grattan “Grat”  Dalton (1865-1892) – Also serving as a U.S. Deputy Marshal before he turned outlaw,  Grattan Dalton was born in 1865 near Lawrence, Kansas, one of fifteen children. The family moved to Indian Territory in 1882. Grat took his brother, Frank’s job as a U.S. Deputy Marshal after Frank was killed on November 27,1887. The following year, he took a bullet in the left arm when he was trying to serve an arrest warrant on an Indian outlaw. In August 1889, he was working as a Deputy Marshal for the Muskogee court in Indian Territory.

For the next year, he assisted in arresting a number of fugitives. However, when Grat forced a young black boy to place an apple on his head, then shooting it off, Marshal Jacob Yoes got wind of the incident. He then dismissed Grat for misuse of his authority.

By 1891, he had turned to a life of crime with his brothers and other members of the Dalton Gang. He was killed on October 5, 1892, when the gang attempted a double bank robbery in Coffeyville, Kansas. He is buried at the Coffeyville, Kansas Cemetery under a marker for himself, his brother Bob, and Bill Power.

Bill Dalton – Riding With the Doolin Gang

Bill Dalton

Bill Dalton

William “Bill” Dalton (1866-1894) – Bill, who was once a member of the California legislature, became fed up with politics and robbed a train with his brothers just outside of Los Angeles, California in 1891. After the death of his brothers at the Coffeyville, Kansas raid in 1892, he joined Bill Doolin’s

gang and soon became one of the leaders of the Doolin-Dalton Gang. Obsessed with the idea of making his own name more prominent than that of his brothers, he and Doolin vowed to take East Texas by storm. For three years, the gang specialized in robbing banks, stagecoaches, and trains in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas becoming the terror of the Wild West. But it was not to last.

On June 8, 1894, a posse of lawmen approached Bill’s home near Ardmore, Oklahoma. Bill, with a pistol in hand, jumped out of a window and ran toward the posse, ignoring orders to halt. He was killed immediately. His wife identified the body and shipped him to California for burial.

The Only Survivor

Emmett Dalton

Emmett Dalton

Emmett Dalton (1871-1937) – Born in Missouri in 1871, Emmett Dalton was the youngest of 15 children. Though he never served as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, like his brothers, Frank, Bob, and Grat, he was known to assist on several of their posses.

It was Emmett, who was working as a cowboy on the Bar X Bar Ranch in Oklahoma, that met most of the other men who would become part of the Dalton Gang, including Bill Doolin, Bill Power, Charley Pierce, George “Bitter Creek” Newcomb, Bill EcElhanie, Charlie Bryant, and Richard (Dick) Broadwell. Emmett participated in the Coffeyville, Kansas raid that killed his brothers, Bob and Grat, as well as Bill Power and Dick Broadwell. Though Emmett was wounded, he survived to stand trial in Independence, Kansas five months after the robbery.

He plead guilty to murdering a Coffeyville citizen and was sentenced to life in prison at the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing. After fourteen and one-half years in prison, Emmett Dalton was pardoned by E. W. Hoch, governor of Kansas, in 1907. On September 1, 1908, Emmett married Julia Johnson Gilstrap Lewis in Bartlesville, Oklahoma before settling in Tulsa. Emmett worked as a police officer in Tulsa for a couple of years before the pair moved to California. In California, Emmett worked as a building contractor and later would write a book about the exploits of the Dalton Gang entitled “When The Daltons Rode.” Written in collaboration with Jack Jungmeyer, a Los Angeles Newspaperman, the book was published in 1931. Emmett died quietly at his home in Long Beach, California on July 13, 1937. Emmett was cremated and his ashes were returned to Kingfisher, Oklahoma for burial.

In the end, the Dalton Brothers did make a name for themselves, though, no doubt, their family would have preferred they had done it more honestly. Then, as today, they are some of the most recognized names of the Old West.


Daltons Dead

Daltons Dead

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January 2020.

Also See:

The Deadly Dalton Gang

Coffeyville Raid Newspaper Accounts

Coffeyville, Kansas

Bad Men of the Indian Nations


2 thoughts on “The Dalton Brothers – Lawmen & Outlaws”

  1. My father’s middle name was Dalton. He was told that his uncle was in the Dalton Gang and his name was Mathias Duerst. He died in 1893, but other than stories from my grandfather, I could never find out if that was true. Can someone tell me? Thanks.

  2. As a member of this family I do not prefer that the name these men made for themselves had been done in a different way. I think it is kind of neat to be related to infamous Dalton Gang!

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