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Emmett Dalton

Emmett Dalton, prison photo

Dalton Gang member. Born May 3, 1871, Belton, Missouri. Died July 13, 1937.

Members of the notorious Dalton gang were killed October 5, 1892, during attempted bank robberies in Coffeyville, Kansas. Emmett Dalton survived, receiving 23 gunshot wounds. He served 14 years in prison at Lansing.

Dalton was born near Belton, Missouri, on May 3, 1871. The youngest of 11 children, he looked up to his older brother, Bob, who would lead him into a life of crime. The Daltons moved to Indian Territory in 1882. His brothers became guards, posse men, deputies, and marshals. At first the brothers were considered good men, but soon faced charges of “introducing intoxicating liquor into the Osage Nation on Dec. 25, 1889.” They were also accused of taking bribes, although Emmett was acquitted.

When their brother, Lewis, died on July 16, 1890, the boys went into horse dealing. They sold their deceased brother's livestock, but when accused of horse stealing, they left town. They headed for California and were implicated in a series of train robberies from1889. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad posted a $40,000 reward for their capture in 1892. The Daltons had gained some notoriety at this point, and were blamed for many train robberies. One California newspaper stated, “California is getting up a reputation as notorious as Oklahoma and Indian Territory regarding train robberies. Those Dalton boys must travel on the fastest trains to be able to bury their treasure in Indian Territory one week and rob a train here the next. If a company of trappers were to be robbed at Hudson Bay tomorrow the Daltons would get the credit. While officers are chasing the Daltons, other highwaymen are committing robberies and stepping aside to watch the officers hunt the Daltons.” To escape the heat of these robberies the Daltons headed for Oklahoma.

On October 5, 1892, three of the Dalton gang, Bob, Graton, and Emmett, and two others, Tom Evans and Jake Moore, met outside Tulsa. They needed money, and wanted to outdo the James' gang record in robbery and rob two banks in Coffeyville at once. They were successful at first, robbing the town's two banks of nearly $25,000, before being ambushed by angry town citizens. Warned of the Dalton's plans, townspeople opened fire, killing four gang members. It is said that Emmett had the chance to escape, but upon seeing his brother Bob injured, turned back to help him on his horse. It was then that he was injured, receiving more than 23 gunshot wounds. Four Coffeyville citizens also lost their lives in the gun battle. Upon capture Emmett was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in Lansing. Considered a model prisoner at Lansing, Emmett was released after 14 years. He moved to Oklahoma, setting up a tailor business there. Emmett would write two books, Beyond the Law and When the Daltons Rode, and appear in a movie depicting his exploits as a young robber. Emmett died July 13, 1937, and is still remembered today for his outlaw activities in the Old West.

Entry: Dalton, Emmett

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2009

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.