From Sunday, July 21 through Friday, July 26, Sweetums and I drove 2,150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, to Fort Worth, Texas, and back again. I am posting the stops in order of the trip. The map is below. Most sites will be included in my upcoming Guide to Southern Oddities.
Stop No. 10: Dalton Gang’s Last Raid
First National Bank, downtown Longview, Texas
We stopped in Longview to see the site of a legendary incident in the Wild West history of Texas – the bank robbed by the last surviving Dalton brother in 1894.
Three other brothers, members of the infamous Dalton Gang, were involved in an 1892 shootout in Coffeyville, Kansas, in which Gratton and Bob Dalton were killed and Emmett Dalton was injured and sent to prison. Brother Bill Dalton was a member of the Wild Bunch. By 1894, when he was alleged to have taken part in the Longview robbery, he had formed a new Dalton Gang made up of outlaws who were not related to him. It would be the first and last job for the four members.
Incidentally, like many Wild West outlaws, most of the Dalton brothers began their careers as lawmen. There was a pretty thin line between “law” and “outlaw” at the time and, after they were reportedly shorted on their pay as marshals, the men switched sides.
The Longview robbery
In May of 1894, a letter arrived at the First National Bank in Longview, Texas. It said, “We take this method of informing you that on or about the 23rd day of May, A.D., 1894, we will rob the First National Bank of Longview. So take notice accordingly and withdraw your deposit as this is a straight tip. For further information, see Charles Specklemeyer or the undersigned. Yours for business, B&F.”
“B&F” stood for “Bill and Friends” and, true to his word, Bill Dalton arrived in Longview on May 23, 1894.
VisitLongviewTexas.com says that although several outlaws and townspeople were killed that day, Dalton got away.
“After the Longview robbery, several weeks passed with no definite clues being uncovered. But Bill Dalton’s own mistakes eventually cost him his freedom. A few months later, he used several of the bank notes taken in the Longview raid to buy a wagon and supplies near Ardmore, Oklahoma. Authorities traced the money to Dalton, rode out to his home to make the arrest, and killed him when he tried to flee … The money taken by the Dalton gang in its last raid amounted to $2,000 and a few unsigned bank notes.”
A historical marker is attached to the side of the bank, explaining the incident. In addition, the town hosts an annual Dalton Days event.
In the next block from the bank, the beautiful and historic Everett Building at 214 North Fredonia Street, originally the Citizens National Bank, houses the Gregg County Historical Museum which includes exhibits about the raid.