On This Date in History:
In 1871, Emmet Dalton entered the world in the Oklahoma Territory. I’ve seen his name spelled with two “t’s” in some sources. He had two older brothers. In 1889, brothers Bob and Grat went to California to seek their fortune. The determined the best line of work that they could find was to rob trains. Emmet wanted to come along but they said he was too young. So, while the brothers ran around California looking for trains to rob, Emmet met a girl named Julia Johnson and fell in love. The older brothers returned a few years later and decided Emmet had the maturity to ride with them. Emmet left his girl behind, thinking he had nothing to offer her. He also delivered the tough guy line that sounds like something Pee Wee Herman once said, ” I rode away, an outlaw has no business having a girl, no business thinking about marriage.”
So, the three brothers proceeded to wander around Oklahoma and Kansas with some other thugs and they became known as the Dalton Gang. But, their reign of terror really didn’t last too long. On October 5, 1892 the gang got a little greedy and perhaps a little cocky. One bank wasn’t enough. No…they tried to rob two banks at once in the middle of the day in Coffeyville, Kansas. But, like the James Gang in Northfield, Minnesota the Daltons didn’t count on the folks of Coffeyville getting word of the daring raid. They were ready. When Bob and Emmet were gathering $21,000 in booty from one bank in their grain sacks, the people of Coffeyville surrounded the building. When the pair emerged, they found a hail of bullets. They escaped out the back door…so much for being surrounded…and they hooked up with Grat and the others, who had similarly been ambused at the other bank.
The gang ended up getting herded into what the citizens of the town came to call “death alley.” With no where to go, the desperados were easy targets as the lead was flying. Emmet had gotten on his horse and reached down to try and rescue the wounded Bob. But, Emmet got hit by a shot to the hip and then buckshot to the back. Four of the gangmembers, including Bob and Gath, died but Emmet survived. He was later tried and convicted and was given a life sentence on this date in 1893. But, in the penal system, life does not necessarily mean life. Emmet served 14 years and was released on pardon as a reformed man!
He got out of prison, married Julia Johnson, whom I figure must not have been much of a catch or her love for Emmet was true because she waited all of that time. I guess robbing banks must be a qualification for business on a resume because Emmet became successful as a real estate agent. Los Angeles was booming in the early part of the 20th century so he and Julia moved there. He picked up extra money as a consultant for Hollywood movies, much like Wyatt Earp had done. Emmet Dalton died in Los Angeles in 1937 at the age of 66.