WHEN THE DALTONS CAME TO WAYNOKA
By E.W. Snoddy, Cattleman, Alva Oklahoma
From the NORTHWEST CATTLEMAN---First Quarter, 1947. Posted 12/20/2004
On October 5, 1892, about six months after the Dalton Gang
came to Waynoka, four members of the gang were killed in their hometown
of Coffeyville, Kansas, when they attempted to rob two banks at once.
Emmett Dalton was seriously wounded, but survived. The four who were
killed are shown in the photograph above: Bill Power, Bob Dalton,
Gratton (Grat) Dalton, and Dick Broadwell.
In the spring of 1892, the Dalton gang robbed the southbound Santa Fe passenger train at Red Rock, Okla., about 10 o'clock at night. Red Rock at that time was just a handful of men and a section house. As the Daltons were leaving, they saw the telegraph operator with his instruments and, believing he was telegraphing news of the hold-up, very callously shot through the window of the office, killing the boy.
About 10 o’clock the next morning the section gang, working on the Rock Island railroad at Wild Horse, north of Enid, saw the Daltons crossing the track and going west, but at that time the men knew nothing of the robbery of the night before. They saw that the Daltons had a pack horse, one white horse in the outfit, and the six men were heavily armed.
At the time I was a Deputy United States Marshall of Oklahoma, in fact, the only one west of the Rock Island in the Cherokee Strip, and I lived at Kiowa, Kan., on the border. Guthrie was the Territorial Capital at the time. I received a telegram early the next morning after the robbery to load my horse on a cattle car, which, the wire said, the local freight would set for me at the stockyards at Kiowa, and go with a posse coming from Guthrie, via Winfield and Wellington, in Kansas, in pursuit of the robbers. Since I was more familiar with the country in the vicinity of Waynoka, that was where I planned to unload the posse and start chasing the robbers.
My horse was loaded and waiting when the down 3 o’clock passenger train pulled into Kiowa with a cattle car attached, loaded with the horses of the posse. Seven of the best men on the United States marshall’s force, namely Heck Thomas, William Tilghman, Ransom Payne, Chris Madsen, John Hixon, sheriff of Logan County, Okla., at Guthrie, Tillman Lilly and a deputy sheriff of Logan County, and Frank Rinehart, made up the members of the posse.
We unloaded at the stockyards at Waynoka. There was nothing there at the time but the section house and a small telegraph office, used only in cattle shipping season in the fall.
The cattle had all been taken out of the Strip at that time, having been ordered out by President Cleveland, but there were a few small herds on the north line dodging the soldiers.
When we unloaded at Waynoka the wife of the section foreman told us that two heavily armed men on horseback, had come to the section house and inquired for mail, and she had given them two letters from Independence, Kan., but had forgotten to whom they were addressed. At that time mail would be thrown out at the section houses, and was called “Outside Mail” by the trainmen. She told us the men had come from the southeast and had departed that way.
As we had brought no lunches and there were no places where we could obtain anything to eat, we had the lady hurriedly put up a lunch for us, which we intended to carry with us. She also loaned us a coffee pot and some ground coffee.
There was a dim trail going southeast from Waynoka, on the north side of the Cimarron River to the Twenty-One Crossing, and the trail being clearly visible and easily followed, it did not take long to find out the two men had taken that trail.
When we came to the Twenty-One crossing we found out that four others had joined the trail of the two men, and then we were sure they were the same men who had robbed the train at Red Rock. It was nearly dark, but we found out they had crossed the Cimarron, and had followed the trail up Greever creek, going southwest.
Going up Greever creek, the trail followed the divide, which had numerous dips and hollows in it-some were very deep. We followed the trail until dark caught us, and fearing we might leave the trail, we stopped for camp and supper in one of the hollows.
We then staked out our horses, kindled a fire, made coffee and ate our supper. The next morning, after a hasty breakfast, we saddled up and took the trail. Not much over a quarter of a mile from our night camp, we found a smoldering camp fire, dough poured out on the ground, a dear cleaned but not cut up, and one old saddle blanket. We knew it was where the Daltons had stopped, but either hearing us or seeing the light reflected from our fire, they had hastily saddled up and left.
I have often wondered what would have happened if we had only gone on another quarter of a mile that night. Of course, we would have had a fight, but we would have cleaned up on them, for we had some mighty “good with the guns” men with us. I do not intend to include myself in that category.
We hurried up the trail which they had followed, through the black jacks, over the divide and then on down to about where Seiling is now. There we met a herd of cattle of about 2,000 head, going to Dodge City, Kan., and right then, of course, we lost the trail. We did not ask the men in charge of the herd any questions, for it was well known to us that they would give out no information because they feared retaliation from the Daltons, and this was true of all the cattlemen in the country at that time.
We scouted all over the vicinity for several days, and never found where the gang had gone. Long afterwards we found out that the Daltons had a hide-out with a squaw man, who had married a Cheyenne woman, in the Cheyenne and Arapahoe country. This squaw man had a big pasture containing thousands of acres, and all the Daltons had to do was turn their horses into the pasture, drive them far east of the trail, hide out there until the “hue and cry” was over and then take their time going back to their haunts near Independence, Kan., in the Indian Territory.
While we were scouting around, Ransom Payne and I became separated from the rest of our men. We were combing the country around where Belva now is, but at that time there was only a section house there. The station was called Tucker, after the section foreman, who was a rather fleshy man.
West Creek runs east right south of Belva, with rather deep banks. It was Sunday morning and Payne and I were coming into Tucker from the north. Heavy elm timber at that time followed the course of the creek. Just before we got to the railroad we saw a white horse, tied in the edge of the timber.
Payne said to me, “There they are, Snoddy, come on!” He pulled his Winchester out of his holster and spurred up his horse. I didn’t want to follow, but I did.
I was sure we would be mowed down before we ever got to the white horse. Just before we got to the creek, we saw a man run up out of the creek, look a moment, and then run back down out of sight. I was sure then that we would get a volley , but I couldn’t back out, so away we went running to the edge of the bank. There we found---old man Tucker fishing in West Creek!
Finally we gave up the hunt for the Daltons. The boys from Guthrie loaded their horses and went home. I went back to Kiowa.
That’s the story of when the Daltons came to Waynoka:
NORTHWEST CATTLEMAN---First Quarter, 1947.
Click here to return to News and Information Page.